Lack of Legionnaire’s Alert Upsets Guests; Woman Files Suit Against Another Hotel

Man says group wasn’t told of risk; suit filed against different hotel

ALBANY — Guests to one area hotel claim they weren’t warned about the presence of a potentially dangerous bacterial contamination on a visit this week, while a woman who fell ill last year after attending a conference at a different establishment is filing a lawsuit seeking damages.

Ken Cooper, a state canteen operator from Buffalo, checked in to Best Western Sovereign on Tuesday, one day after state tests confirmed the hotel’s water system was contaminated with legionnella bacteria.

Nobody at the front desk told him, Cooper said.

Cooper, who is legally blind, said he went to his room and noticed a white paper taped to the bathroom mirror. He couldn’t read it because of his vision impairment and almost ignored it, but Cooper said he decided to ask a hotel worker to read it to him.

The worker informed him about the bacteria risk at the hotel and told him the water temperature had been raised to help eliminate the bacteria, he said.

“We were pretty appalled that nobody was forthcoming with the information at the front desk,” Cooper said. “I felt I was done wrong.”

Cooper, who runs the canteen at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, was attending a meeting at the hotel for State Committee of Blind Vendors, whose members operate the numerous convenience stores located in state buildings throughout New York. The group talked over the situation but decided to remain at the hotel for the two-day meeting, he said.

Mansoor Mustafa, general manager of Best Western Sovereign, 1228 Western Ave., said in a statement: “My understanding is that someone in the group who was not sight impaired informed members of the group about the issue at the property.”

He would not comment on whether the group was told before they checked in.

Six cases of Legionnaires’ disease between September and December have been linked to the Western Avenue hotel. All of the people have recovered and hotel is taking steps to eliminate the bacteria from its aging water system. The hotel will flush out its water system on Sunday, according to the Albany County Health Department.

Legionnaires’ is a severe form of pneumonia. The disease is transmitted on water droplets that can come from shower mist, steam from a hot tub and air conditioners. Legionnella, a naturally occurring bacteria that is present in many bodies of water, is harmless at lower levels.

County health officials said the hotel is under orders to inform hotel guests about the elevated bacteria at the hotel.

On Friday, an Albany lawyer announced that he is filing a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who nearly died after allegedly contracting Legionnaires’ disease at another area hotel.

Lori Clark, 48, of Nassau, an associate project manager for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, attended a three-day training session at the Comfort Inn in East Greenbush in early January 2011. Clark did not stay overnight, but ate several meals and used the hotel’s restrooms.

Clark’s lawyer, Michael Conway, of the Albany law firm Harris, Conway & Donovan, said the hotel never informed Clark that there were elevated levels of legionnella despite tests done a month earlier that showed abnormal results. Days after her visit to the hotel, Clark said she and several coworkers developed flu-like symptoms. Clark, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, became critically ill. She went into septic shock and organ failure. Clark eventually recovered and has returned to work, though she mostly works from home and only has 50 percent lung function.

“They were negligent in cleaning up their mess and they had a lack of concern for the public,” Clark said about the hotel.

Nicole Nykorchuk, general manager at the Comfort Inn, said the hotel has no comment.

Conway said the hotel shut down their hot tub for a couple days and cleaned it.

“They appeared to have done nothing to clean the air system,” he said. “And they said nothing to folks staying there or visiting for conferences.”

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OCEAN CITY: Three guests at Plim Plaza develop Legionnaires Disease

OCEAN CITY–The Plim Plaza Hotel in Ocean City closed for the season after three people who had been guests at the hotel developed legionellosis.

It has not been confirmed that the guests developed legionellosis, commonly known as Legionnaires disease, while registered as guests at hotel. The Plim Plaza, located on the Boardwalk at Second Street, voluntarily relocated guests and closed the hotel.

Samples have been taken from water sources in the building are being cultured at a Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene lab. Preliminary results do suggest the presence of Legionella bacteria in the hotel water but final culture results are not expected until the end of next week, according to the DHMH.

Symptoms of Legionnaires disease, which typically show up between two and 14 days after exposure to the bacteria, include a high fever, cough and shortness of breath. People who visited the Plim Plaza Hotel after Sept. 1, 2011, and have these symptoms should contact their health care provider, according to the DHMH.

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8 guests sue Las Vegas resort in Legionnaires case

LAS VEGAS — Eight former hotel guests are suing a Las Vegas Strip resort and its builders, seeking $337.5 million in damages and alleging they were exposed to Legionnaires’ disease during stays there earlier this year.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs said Wednesday the huge amount sought in compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of a handful of guests at the posh Aria Resort & Casino stems from negligence by resort owners MGM Resorts International and Dubai World, and the builders of the massive CityCenter complex. No hearing date was immediately set.

“What we’re looking at is the management of the water plan,” attorney Sam Mirkovich told The Associated Press. “There were multiple instances of the Legionella bacteria in the water system.”

MGM Resorts executive spokesman Alan Feldman denied negligence. The 266-page lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun ( and Las Vegas Review-Journal ( It involves three couples and two individuals from Arizona, California, Minnesota, Texas and Canada.

“While it is our policy to not comment on litigation, we have been very careful to communicate with each of our guests and reimburse them fairly for any legitimate medical expenses,” Feldman said. “We intend to vigorously defend ourselves.”

Six of the plaintiffs allege they were treated for Legionnaires’ disease. The potentially fatal respiratory ailment got its name after more than 200 people were sickened and 34 died in 1976 after a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion. Health investigators said the bacteria apparently spread through the convention hotel air conditioning system.

The Las Vegas-based Southern Nevada Health District reported in July that six former Aria guests recovered after treatment for the disease. MGM Resorts notified guests they may have been exposed between June 21 and July 4.

Mirkovich said plaintiffs in the lawsuit weren’t the same people reported by health officials to have been treated.

The 225-count complaint alleges guests were exposed to the disease in water vapor and steam when they used showers and faucets.

The glassy multistory Aria hotel, with nearly 4,000 rooms, opened in December 2009 as a key component of the $8.5 billion CityCenter resort complex.

The lawsuit was filed the same day Clark County officials asked MGM and Dubai World for more information about a proposal to implode a defective separate 26-story hotel that never opened. That property, called the Harmon hotel and condo tower, has been called a public safety risk.

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Overview of the Dangers of Legionnaire’s Disease

A recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease at an Orlando hotel serves to remind us about this dangerous disease:

“The Orange County Health Department says two laboratory-confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease are linked to the Quality Inn near Universal Studios. The hotel is in the International Drive tourist corridor, popular with tourists visiting nearby theme parks.

Officials believe the outbreak may have started in the hotel’s hot tub, which may not have been properly chlorinated.

At least two people were hospitalized as a result of the outbreak, Action News has learned, however no further information about their condition was available. They remain in a Pinellas County hospital. Pinellas County officials first alerted Orange County officials to the potential problem. The patients had stayed at the hotel within the last two weeks.”

According to the Mayo Clinic website:

“Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 14 days after exposure to the legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever that may be 104 F (40 C) or higher

If you have Legionnaires’ disease, by the second or third day, you’ll develop other signs and symptoms that may include:

  • Cough, which may bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Confusion or other mental changes”

It is usually contracted when a person inhales the bacteria into their lungs. Legionnaires’ Disease can lead to a number of fatal complications, such as respiratory failure, acute kidney failure, and septic shock, so it should be taken extremely seriously and be treated as soon as you suspect you have contracted it.

If you have any of the symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease, please see a medical professional immediately so that you can get started on the proper antibiotics. It is an easily treatable disease if caught quickly, but if you let it develop it could turn into a fatal problem.

From Avvo