Sick with Legionnaires?
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Elliot Olsen is a nationally known Legionnaires lawyer who has regained millions for clients. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease, you might have reason to file a Legionnaires lawsuit. Please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.
USA Today recently published an article detailing how Legionnaires’ disease cases have increased by 500 percent since 2000, and used the expertise of noted Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen to highlight the lack of oversight at large buildings.
While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires hospitals and nursing homes to be stringent about the oversight of their water systems and medical equipment, there’s little oversight at large buildings like apartments, hotels, and other non-medical buildings.
“There’s not a lot of people checking up on a hotel, a condominium or a large building,” said Olsen, who has filed numerous Legionnaires lawsuits for people sickened because of that lack of oversight. “I am not aware of any oversight really at any level.”
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection that is contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (mist or vapor) contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Large buildings are prime hosts for Legionella because they have air-conditioning system cooling towers and large plumbing systems.
Sugar Hill Project
Last year in New York City alone, there were two highly publicized Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, during which two people died, almost 60 were sickened, more than 50 were hospitalized. Both were produced by the same large building in Washington Heights.
In early October, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) determined that clinical specimens of Legionella from patients were a match with the strain of Legionella found in the cooling tower at the Sugar Hill Project (898 St. Nicholas Avenue). The DOHMH issued a news release stating that it “has identified the cooling tower at the Sugar Hill Project as the likely source of this [outbreak].”
The DOHMH also had pinpointed the Sugar Hill Project for the first outbreak, which occurred last July and August, when 27 area residents were sickened, 25 were hospitalized, and one died.
Olsen, Harford first to file
Olsen, working with Manhattan lawyer Scott Harford, filed a Legionnaires lawsuit on behalf of a Manhattan woman who was sickened during last year’s second Washington Heights outbreak. It was the first lawsuit to come out of the two outbreaks.
According to the complaint, filed by Harford on Feb. 14, Vivian Weeks was infected with Legionella bacteria in late September while visiting the Church of the Intercession (550 West 155th Street). In early October, Weeks developed symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing, body aches, and fever, and on Oct. 5, she was admitted to St. Luke’s Hospital.
During her extended stay there, she was diagnosed with Legionella pneumonia (Legionnaires’ disease), and she continues to experience complications from the disease.
The complaint states that the three defendants “did not warn area residents and visitors of the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease by exposure to the building’s cooling tower.”
USA Today spotlight
The USA Today article highlighted a story from those two Washington Heights Legionnaires outbreaks, about Meals on Wheels driver Robert Callender, who was returning to his Bronx home after his workday in July when he felt disoriented and fell off his bicycle.
The fall didn’t injure Callender, 45, but he spent nearly a month in a hospital battling a severe illness that made him feel as if he “blacked out with my eyes wide open.”
About the disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria – scientific name: Legionella pneumophila – happen in the U.S. annually. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.
“It’s been on a strong upward trend for the last couple of years, both the number of cases and outbreaks,” CDC epidemiologist Chris Edens told USA Today.
In addition to the Washington Heights outbreaks last year, three people died and 11 became ill in November at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. Tests of the hospital’s hot-water systems revealed elevated levels of Legionella. The hospital applied high doses of chlorine and continues to test water systems.
Officials for the hospital, which is part of the UW Health system; the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and the CDC are investigating. A report has not been completed.
Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: