Hospital Legionnaires Disease Outbreak Caused by Plumbing Issues, According to New Evidence

In early 2011, 11 patients of Miami Valley Hospital contracted Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. The patients had all stayed in the hospital’s new 12-story addition.

In June of that year, the hospital said the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak was due to water that could only be heated to 120 degrees due to state plumbing codes. At the time, one hospital called the state plumbing codes “irresponsible”. New evidence suggests issues with new plumbing installed during construction may be more at fault than water temperature.

The new evidence is a letter from Neil Freund, an attorney for the hospital, to executives for Skanska USA Building and Shook Construction, contractors for the new hospital addition. The letter, entered into court records, said “an analysis of the outbreak points to ‘plumbing issues, including plumbing design, in the new tower.’”

Freund wrote:

This was the responsibility of Skanska/Shook, JV (Joint Venture). . . The temperature of the water and the fact the water was not chlorinated before occupancy were also likely contributing causes. Skanska/Shook knew there was no chlorination prior to occupancy, even though the project specifications called for such chlorination to take place, but failed to take any action. . . It is not, however, the hospital’s intention to shoulder the entire cost of what could be more than eleven patient cases and/or lawsuits for an incident which the hospital did not cause. . . The purpose of this letter is to put Skanska/Shook on notice that Miami Valley Hospital seeks contribution and cooperation in resolving these claims.

Although the letter was arguably protected from the discovery process by attorney-client privilege, it was legally obtained in a request for documents, according to news reports. This means that it can be used as evidence in a lawsuit against the hospital and other parties.

Attorney Fred Pritzker represents Legionnaires’ disease victims nationwide in lawsuits against hotels, hospitals and others. He is one of the few Legionnaires’ disease lawyers in the United States with significant recoveries (recently $3 million for a wrongful death case). Legionella pneumonia patients and their families can contact Fred for a free consultation here. contributed information used herein.

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Category: Legionnaires' Disease
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