A lawsuit seeking $3 million in money damages was filed last week in New York claims that a German man contracted Legionnaires’ disease from his stay at 70 Park Avenue Hotel located in Midtown at 70 Park Avenue New York, NY 10016, according to news reports. The hotel is owned by Kimpton, a company that owns several boutique hotels and restaurants.

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia caused by inhaling Legionella bacteria in water mist. Hotels in the United States are required to take measures to prevent the bacteria from colonizing in cooling towers, air conditioning units, pools, hot tubes, fountains and other water sources.

These cases can be difficult to prove, and anyone seeking compensation from a hotel for Legionnaires’ disease should make sure their attorney has experience winning similar cases. If investigated properly, it is possible to get solid evidence that hotel water is the source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. Legionella bacteria have unique DNA fingerprints. Legionella isolates from the people sickened in the outbreak and from hotel water samples need to be tested to determine the DNA fingerprints.

If the bacteria in the humans and the water have matching DNA fingerprints, it is highly likely that the water caused the illnesses. In most cases, the process used to find the DNA fingerprints is pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). This process uses special enzymes to cut the DNA strands into pieces. These pieces are then separated by size. The result is a pattern. It is these patterns that are analyzed to determine if they are matching.

According to the lawsuit filed by Tobias Meyerhoff, he spent four days at 70 Park Avenue Hotel in May 2013.  He alleges that about 10 days after leaving town, he became sick with symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease and was hospitalized for 2 weeks in intensive care.