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The Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak at the JW Marriott in Chicago

Three people have died of Legionnaires’ disease after they were exposed to the bacteria at the JW Marriott hotel in downtown Chicago. Approximately 10 people between the ages of 49 and 82 have contracted the disease, and many others have developed symptoms consistent with Pontiac fever and milder forms of pneumonia. Victims of this outbreak include a doctor from Florida and a 66-year-old retiree from Ireland who was celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary at the hotel. The affected guests visited the JW Marriott between July 16 and August 15, 2012.

Preliminary investigations revealed that a decorative fountain in the hotel lobby was the primary source of the bacteria. Legionnaires’ disease is a deadly respiratory condition that is caused by Legionella, a waterborne bacterium that is vaporized and inhaled. Legionella is found in HVAC ducts, plumbing systems and water cooling towers. Officials from the Chicago Department of Health also found significant amounts of Legionella in the swimming pool, in the spa’s whirlpool, and in the men’s and women’s locker rooms. Shower heads in the guest rooms tested negative.

Commonality of Legionella

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious condition that affects more than 10,000 people in the United States each year. Exposure to Legionella frequently occurs in hotels, hospitals and large commercial buildings. Personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits can arise after exposure to the bacteria. Common claims related to Legionnaires’ disease include willful and wanton negligence for failing to clean and maintain public fixtures and failing to properly train and supervise employees. Lawsuits may also involve breach of contract and strict liability claims for causing a public nuisance and for failing to provide safe accommodations.

If you or a loved one has contracted Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever in a hotel or public building in Indiana, you may have a right to compensation. Contact a knowledgeable, compassionate personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

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