Personal Injury Lawyers

Legionnaires’ Disease

Rockford Legionnaires’ Disease Lawyer

At the Law Office of Paul M. Marriett we’re aware and take seriously the dangers associated with untreated and improperly maintained water systems at hotels and other public and private businesses that require stringent standards to be met to prevent the development of waterborne disease such as Legionella bacteria (Legionnaires’ disease) and Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) or the more dangerous variety of MAC-LD where the bacteria has spread to the lungs of an individual.

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. The disease was first identified in 1976 when an outbreak occurred among attendees of an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since then, numerous outbreaks of the disease have occurred worldwide, resulting in thousands of illnesses and deaths.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. The bacteria are commonly found in freshwater sources such as lakes, rivers, and ponds. When the bacteria are inhaled, they can cause severe lung infections, which can be life-threatening in some cases.

Legionnaires’ disease can be contracted by inhaling small droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria. This can occur through showerheads, hot tubs, air conditioning systems, and other water sources. The disease is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease typically begin two to ten days after exposure to the bacteria. The symptoms can include:

  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion

The severity of the disease can vary widely, and some people may have only mild symptoms, while others can become severely ill. In some cases, the disease can be fatal, particularly in people with weakened immune systems, older adults, and smokers.

Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks

Since the first outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 1976, numerous outbreaks have occurred worldwide. In some cases, the outbreaks have been linked to specific water sources, while in others, the source of the bacteria has been more difficult to identify. One of the most significant outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease occurred in 2014 in Flint, Michigan. The outbreak was linked to the city’s water supply, which had become contaminated with lead due to a change in the water source. The Legionella bacteria thrived in the warm, stagnant water, causing more than 90 people to become ill and killing 12. Another significant outbreak occurred in New York City in 2015. The outbreak was linked to cooling towers in the Bronx, which had become contaminated with Legionella bacteria. The outbreak resulted in more than 120 cases of Legionnaires’ disease and 12 deaths. More recently, an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease occurred in the summer of 2021 in Johnson County, Kansas. The outbreak was linked to a hotel in Overland Park, where multiple guests became ill after being exposed to the bacteria. At least one person died as a result of the outbreak.

Prevention of Legionnaires’ Disease

Preventing Legionnaires’ disease requires careful management of water systems to ensure that the Legionella bacteria do not have the opportunity to grow and multiply. This can involve regular cleaning and disinfection of water systems, maintaining appropriate water temperatures, and ensuring that water sources are not stagnant.

In addition, individuals can take steps to reduce their risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease, such as avoiding hot tubs and pools that have not been properly maintained, and ensuring that showerheads and other water sources are cleaned regularly.

Similar Infections & Other Common Waterborne Illnesses

While Legionnaires’ disease is perhaps the most well-known type of infection caused by Legionella bacteria, there are several other types of infections that can be caused by the bacteria. These include:

  • Pontiac fever: A milder flu-like illness that is also caused by Legionella bacteria. Symptoms typically include fever, muscle aches, and headache.
  • Legionella pneumonia: A type of pneumonia caused by other species of Legionella bacteria. The symptoms are similar to those of Legionnaires’ disease but tend to be less severe.

Another type of bacteria that can cause similar infections is Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC). This bacterium is commonly found in water sources such as hot tubs, swimming pools, and tap water. Infection with MAC can cause a type of lung infection called Mycobacterium avium complex lung disease (MAC-LD). The symptoms of MAC-LD are like those of Legionnaires’ disease and can include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and fever.

Statistics on Legionnaires’ Disease and Similar Infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease each year in the United States. However, the actual number of cases is likely higher, as the disease is often underdiagnosed.

Mortality Issues – the mortality rate for Legionnaires’ disease can vary widely depending on the specific outbreak and the population affected. Overall, the CDC estimates that between 10% and 25% of people who contract Legionnaires’ disease die from the infection. In addition to Legionnaires’ disease, other infections caused by Legionella bacteria are also on the rise.

According to the CDC, reported cases of Legionella pneumonia have increased by nearly four times since 2000. Cases of Pontiac fever have also increased, although these infections are typically not reported to health authorities.

MAC-LD is also becoming more common. According to a study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, the incidence of MAC-LD in the United States increased by more than eight times between 1997 and 2007.

What are the damages and settlements awarded in these types of cases?

The amount of compensation awarded to individuals impacted by a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak or infected with MAC-LD can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including the severity of the illness, the medical expenses incurred, and the extent of the individual’s pain and suffering.

It is difficult to provide an exact estimate of the typical jury awards or settlement values for these cases, as each case is unique and will be evaluated on its individual merits. However, there have been some notable settlements and jury awards in cases involving Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.

For example, in 2019, a hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, agreed to pay $5.3 million to settle a lawsuit filed by 13 individuals who contracted Legionnaires’ disease while staying at the hotel.

In another case, an Illinois Hospital agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a woman who died from Legionnaires’ disease after being treated at the hospital.

In 2019 the State of Illinois paid $6.4 million to the families of deceased individuals who died from a Legionnaires’ outbreak at a Quincy, IL veterans’ home.

In addition to these settlements, there have also been some significant jury awards in cases involving Legionnaires’ disease.

For example, in 2015, a jury in the Bronx, New York, awarded $5.6 million to the family of a woman who died from Legionnaires’ disease after being exposed to contaminated water at a nursing home.

In cases involving MAC-LD, the compensation awarded may be lower than in cases involving Legionnaires’ disease, as MAC-LD is typically less severe. However, there have still been some notable settlements and jury awards in these cases.

For example, in 2017, a family in New Jersey was awarded $2.2 million in a lawsuit filed against their landlord after the family contracted MAC-LD from contaminated tap water in their apartment.

It is important to note that the compensation awarded in these cases is highly dependent on the specific circumstances of each case. In some cases, the compensation awarded may be significantly higher or lower than the examples provided above. If you or a loved one has been impacted by a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak or infected with MAC-LD, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can evaluate your case and help you understand your legal options.

Contact A Rockford Legionnaires’ Disease Lawyer For Help

If you or a loved one has found themselves sick or injured from a waterborne illness such as Legionnaires’ Disease, MAC, MAC-LD, or other illness the Law Office of Paul M. Marriett is here to help. We’re available 24/7/365 and you an always call or text Paul directly at 815-391-0089 or reach us via email to Contact a Rockford personal injury attorney TODAY to learn more and get help!

Skip to content