Nov
23
2020
Share Button

There has been a suspected legionella outbreak in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Two individuals who stayed at the Round Barn Lodge have confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease. While there has not yet been testing to confirm the lodge as their source of exposure, both individuals began feeling symptoms 10-14 days after their stay which falls within the typical incubation period for Legionnaires’ disease.

The lodge has since hired an independent laboratory partner to test the water and resolve any problems with the water that may be found. The lodge has voluntarily closed and notified past guests with information provided by the Sauk County Health Department.

Hotels are common sites of legionella outbreaks. Pools, hot tubs, and potable water systems can all pose exposure risks to guests if not properly maintained.

This is an ongoing matter. As information comes in, we will provide updates. [1]

THE MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY JULES ZACHER, P.C. FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.

[1] https://wkow.com/2019/11/19/popular-spring-green-lodge-temporarily-closed-during-legionella-investigation/

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 12:39 am
Nov
19
2020
Share Button
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

The settlement of the Flint water crisis lawsuits has recently grown to $641 million dollars. The initial settlement amount this summer was $600 million, but the amount increased with additional defendants, including the city of Flint, joining the settlement.

With roughly 80 percent of the settlement slated to go to children, prioritizing those who were 6 years old or younger when they were first exposed to Flint River water, money will also be available to those who contracted Legionnaires’ disease from Flint water. People who were both exposed to water received from the Flint treatment plant and diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease between April 25, 2014 through December 31, 2018 will be eligible to participate in the settlement.

Additional lawsuits will continue for those defendants who did not agree to enter the settlement. Notably, the federal government did not join the settlement and the lawsuit against it will continue.

The settlement must next be approved by the settlement’s Special Master after which direct notice will be sent to residents of the settlement, including an invitation for their reaction and the scheduling of a “fairness hearing.” Final approval of the settlement will occur when a District Court judge finds that the settlement is “fair, reasonable and adequate.” [1]

THE MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY JULES ZACHER, P.C. FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.


[1] https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2020/11/7-things-to-know-from-the-proposed-flint-water-crisis-lawsuit-settlement.html

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 2:10 pm
Nov
18
2020
Share Button

The next case we’re going to revisit, while also involving a hotel, is unique as it involved an external maintenance company and the duty it owed to keep a pool system safe.

In this case, a hotel employee was tasked with manually cleaning out the filter for the pool and hot tub. Within a week, the employee began to feel ill and was later diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. He was the third case of Legionnaires’ disease that could be traced back to the hotel. He was hospitalized multiple times over a 5-month period as a result of his diagnosis. Both his ongoing physical symptoms and his psychological symptoms related to his fear of falling ill again as a result of his job prevented him from returning to work.

While hotel employees, including our client, were tasked with maintaining the pool and hot tub, the hotel also received maintenance support through an external company. This company installed a remote-monitoring system in the pool facility which would measure the level of chemicals in the pool and hot tub water and dispense certain chemicals as needed. The company would also notify the hotel if the chemical balance in the pool or hot tub was off.

In the period leading up to our client’s exposure, the maintenance company sent over 500 alerts to the hotel noting problems with the chemical balance of the water in the pool and hot tub. There were also problems with the controller the company installed at the hotel during this period. The chemical imbalance at issue made the pool and hot tub systems ripe for the growth of legionella bacteria.

A central issue in this case was whether the maintenance company owed a duty to our client. The court found that the company did in fact have a duty and through their actions created an unreasonable risk of a foreseeable injury to our client as one who was present near the pool and hot tub. The court noted that the company knew of the various issues with the water at the hotel but failed to personally reach out to the hotel to let them know and help them remedy the issues. Because the company had a duty, they were then open to potential liability resulting from foreseeable injuries.

In part because of the finding of this duty, prior to making it trial, we were able to secure a sizable settlement for our client from the maintenance company to compensate him for his injuries.

THE MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY JULES ZACHER, P.C. FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 8:53 am
Nov
13
2020
Share Button

Hospital-associated cases are what they sound like: contaminated water at the hospital causes illness amongst its patients and/or employees. Healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes usually serve the populations with the highest risk of contracting Legionnaires’ Disease: elderly individuals and individuals with prior-existing conditions. The following case we had a few years ago.

In 2017, the client was admitted to a nearby hospital. Shortly after, she developed symptoms consistent with Legionnaires’ Disease such as cough and fatigue, was treated in the ICU, and then discharged. Unfortunately, because physicians misdiagnosed her, she had to be readmitted days later. Arriving in acute respiratory distress, she was tested for, and subsequently diagnosed with, Legionnaires’ Disease. She died July 6, 2017. 

The risk of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease due to improperly maintained water systems in hospitals is well-known and foreseeable. Several standards exist for hospitals and medical facilities ensure the safety of their water system, including Medicare’s healthcare management policy. The defendant failed to comply with these policies, which was ultimately the reason for their liability.

THE MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY JULES ZACHER, P.C. FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.      

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 8:43 am
Nov
13
2020
Share Button

The State Department of Health is investigating a possible case of Legionnaires’ Disease following the death of a man in New Haven, Connecticut. According to the Director of Communications at the Department, Yale New Haven Hospital reported the case to health officials. The Director has not said where the Department believes the man may have contracted the disease.

This is an ongoing matter. Health officials at the State Department of Health are still investigating the possible sources of Legionella. As information comes in, we will provide updates.[1]

THE MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY JULES ZACHER, P.C. FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.      


[1] https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/CT-investigating-possible-case-of-Legionnaires-15704620.php

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 8:42 am
Nov
12
2020
Share Button

Like some of our prior posts, this post highlights a past client’s case. We have previously highlighted cases focusing specifically on hot tubs and cooling towers. This post highlights the potential sources of exposure that exist in hotel and resort settings.

In June 2019, our client contracted Legionnaires’ Disease following a stay at an out-of-state hotel. Within days of his visit, he began suffering from symptoms and eventually died as a result of the disease.

Generally, sources of exposure at hotels are many, as legionella bacteria can grow and become aerosolized through a number of different sources where water is being heated. Potable water systems, including faucets, showers, bathtubs and other fixtures, can be sources where Legionella bacteria can grow. Pools and hot tubs, when not properly heated or maintained, are often also very common sources of Legionella infections. Hot tubs are a particularly common source of exposure to Legionella bacteria as the high temperature of the water and its re-circulation provide an ideal environment for the bacteria to grow. Because of the re-circulated water, it is critical for any organization maintaining the hot tub to make sure there is enough free chlorine in the water. To be done properly, chlorine should be fed automatically rather than by hand and many state regulations even require this.

In this case, Legionella bacteria was found at the hotel through testing done by the state health department. Bacteria was found in a variety of locations at the hotel including in faucets and showers in specific guest rooms, in hot water heater tanks, and in the pool mechanical room, among other locations. Given these results, we could determine that our client did in fact contract Legionnaires’ Disease during his stay at the hotel. We knew he had utilized a number of systems where the bacteria was found, including the pool and hot tub, and we were able to approximate his date of exposure given the onset of his symptoms and the disease’s typical incubation period.

Following his death, we prepared a complaint on behalf of his estate and his surviving spouse seeking remedies under state wrongful death and survivorship laws as well as state recreation laws alleging that that the hotel and its staff were negligent in their care of their water systems, including in regard to their pool and hot tub, which led to the Legionella bacterial growth on their premises. Given the widespread and proven presence of Legionella bacteria at the hotel, we were able to secure a substantial settlement on behalf of our client’s estate and his surviving spouse prior to filing a complaint.

THE MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY JULES ZACHER, P.C. FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:51 am
Nov
04
2020
Share Button

Like the last case we revisited, this post highlights a past client’s case. Our last post highlighted the danger of hot tubs. This post highlights the threat posed by cooling towers – a large, commercial building’s water cooling system.

In July and August 2015, there was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in the Bronx that claimed 12 lives and sickened at least 128 people. The outbreak caused widespread concern and weeks of uncertainty among residents. Thanks to the hard work of epidemiologists and investigators, the source of the outbreak was identified: a cooling tower in the area. In cooling tower cases, the simple act of walking down the sidewalk exposes victims to contaminated water droplets that fall from the towers above. That’s what happened to our plaintiffs. In cases like this, there are often clusters of cases. In July of 2015, the New York Department of Health was made aware of the hundred or so cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in a single area of the city. Their investigation makes our plaintiffs’ cases easier to establish, because the source is readily identified. Having determined that the cooling tower was a likely source of the outbreak, investigators turned to clinical results to confirm their suspicions. Using gel electrophoresis and whole genome sequencing, they compared the specific bacteria that inhabited the cooling tower with the bacteria inhabiting the lungs of our clients. After several rounds of rigorous testing, they determined that the bacteria samples matched: The cooling tower had in fact been the source of the outbreak.

THE MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY JULES ZACHER, P.C. FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.      

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 8:36 am
Nov
04
2020
Share Button

Thankfully, there have been no outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease since we covered the cases in Tazewell and Sheboygan counties. So we thought it helpful to highlight some of our past, common scenarios where previous clients of ours have contracted the disease.

In our first case, the clients contracted Legionnaires’ Disease on vacation at the defendant’s lake home she was renting. Specifically, three family members inhaled contaminated water emanating from a hot tub on the property. Two fell seriously ill and one family member died as a result of the disease. This case was particularly tricky as Legionella testing was ever completed on the hot tub—the defendant drained, sanitized, and trashed the tub before testing could be complete. Luckily, the Department of Health for the county in which the lake house was located sent the defendant a “remediation letter,” essentially recognizing the probable presence of Legionella bacteria on the property. While being questioned by our firm during a deposition, it became abundantly clear that the defendant did not know how to properly maintain his hot tub. And because we could establish that the clients could not have contracted the disease from another location, the combination of circumstantial evidence helped us secure for our clients a sizable settlement.

THE MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY JULES ZACHER, P.C. FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.      

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 8:28 am
Oct
28
2020
Share Button

Government officials have warned that gardeners are at higher risk of catching Legionnaires’ disease because Legionella bacteria, which lives in moist organic material, thrives in bags of potting mix and compost. Twenty-three known cases have been reported this year.

Legionnaires’ Disease is caused by Legionella bacteria, which grows in moist, organic material. People can catch the disease by inhaling airborne droplets or particles containing the bacteria. To reduce dust, and therefore the likelihood of inhaling contaminated particles, gardeners can spray water onto their soil bags before use. When using soil, gardeners should wear masks, work in a ventilated area, and wash their hands often. These simple steps, says one health official, can be lifesaving.[1]

THE MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY JULES ZACHER, P.C. FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.      


[1] https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/10/renewed-calls-for-gardeners-to-protect-themselves-against-deadly-legionnaires-disease.html

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 7:52 am
Oct
26
2020
Share Button

During a routine inspection at Rabin Medical Center in Israel on Monday, Legionnaires’ Disease was detected in a coronavirus ward at their Sharon Campus. The hospital administration said that none of the patients had developed symptoms of the disease and were all moved to an underground emergency ward for treatment.[1]

This story is still breaking. If there are any updates, we will publish them.  

THE MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY JULES ZACHER, P.C. FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.      


[1] https://www.ynetnews.com/article/S1e3y4N00P

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 12:09 pm