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One of nine hotel guests involved in the Graceland Legionnaires’ outbreak has filed a lawsuit, according to news reports.

Jennifer Walker of West Yorkshire, England, contracted Legionnaires’ disease after lodging at The Guest House at Graceland in Memphis, TN. Walker stayed at The Guest House on June 12-13 and spent much of her visit around the hotel and pool area.

The Guest House at Graceland, Memphis, TN

A third lawsuit has been filed in the Graceland Legionnaires’ outbreak.

She began experiencing symptoms June 19 after returning to England. She required a neighbor to call an ambulance June 25 after becoming delirious, and was hospitalized for a week and a half.

The Guest House pool area was temporarily closed in late June by the Shelby County Health Department after testing indicated elevated levels of Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease.

Walker’s lawsuit, filed in October, listed Guest House at Graceland LLC, Pyramid Hotel Group LLC, Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc., Pyramid Tennessee Management LLC, and Memphis Pool as defendants. Walker is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal costs, but no specific dollar amount was listed.

The lawsuit alleges there was a failure to properly maintain the hotel water systems, pool, hot tub, and sprinkler system, as well as a failure to properly train and supervise employees responsible for those areas.

Third lawsuit filed

Two lawsuits were filed earlier this year in the Graceland Legionnaires’ outbreak:

  • A Kentucky family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in September after one of four family members died. Linda (Gail) Godsey, 62, of Breathitt County, KY, passed away from the effects of Legionnaires’ disease on June 21. The other family members – Godsey’s sister, niece, and daughter – were sickened with related symptoms but recovered after staying at the hotel between June 10 and June 13.
  • Kenneth Dawson, Jr., and his wife, Linda Dawson, residents of Shelby County, TN, filed a lawsuit in August after Mr. Dawson was hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease from June 18 to July 15. While hospitalized, he was intubated and on machine ventilation for several weeks in intensive care. The couple had stayed at The Guest House between June 11 and June 13.

Legionnaires’ on the rise

Legionnaires’ disease – a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection – is “an emerging disease in the sense that the number of recorded cases of Legionnaires’ in the United States continues to increase,” said Laura Cooley, MD, MPH from the Respiratory Diseases Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cooley credits the increase to a rise in the susceptibility of the population, with more and more people on immunosuppressive medications. She also said there could be more Legionella in the environment, with warmer temperatures creating the right conditions for bacterial growth.

About 25,000 cases annually

The CDC estimates 25,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the U.S. annually. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s non-specific signs and symptoms.

Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (mist or vapor). The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as cooling towers and air-conditioning systems, to name two.