LEGIONNAIRES DISEASE CASES


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According to the Ohio Department of Health, Legionnaires’ disease cases in Ohio are increasing annually. There were around 600 cases reported in 2015, and more suspected in recent years.

Legionella bacteria grow naturally in the environment and typically in warm water. Growth of the Legionella bacteria and Ohio Legionnaires outbreaks usually occur in building water systems.

Legionnaires disease is a form of atypical pneumonia caused by any type of Legionella bacteria that usually enters the lungs by aspiration of contaminated water or inhalation of mist from contaminated water.

The fatality rate is between 5-30 percent and usually affect middle aged to older individuals who have a history of smoking or have chronic lung disease. Consequently, many reported outbreaks occur in hospitals or other long term care health settings.  Pontiac Fever is the more mild infection and does not cause pneumonia or death.

Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati legionnaires disease attorney who is well versed in the science, economic impact, and human loss that such an injury or death has on the injured person’s life and their family.  


What is Legionella?


Legionella is a naturally-occurring bacterium that can cause severe respiratory issues and is typically contracted in communal environments. Outbreaks are commonly associated with structures that have complex water systems, like hotels and resorts, long-term care facilities, hospitals, and cruise ships.

Even though most outbreaks are preventable, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently warned that cases of Legionnaires’ disease have more than quadrupled in recent years.

By some estimates, more than 5,000 people with Legionnaires’ disease are hospitalized every year. The health agency cautioned that actual rates were likely higher than those reported.

The recent CDC report, which examined 27 Legionnaires’ outbreaks from 2000 to 2014, stated that most outbreaks can be prevented through better water management.

In response, the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases is releasing a toolkit to help building owners and managers identify areas of risk and prevent the disease. Contact a Legionella injury attorney after infection.


Causes of Legionella Infection


Artificial water systems provide an environment conducive to bacterial growth and represent the likely sources of disease. The bacteria live and grow in water systems at warmer temperatures. Legionella can become a health concern if it grows and spreads in any human-made water systems, such as the following:

•    Hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
•    Hot water tanks and heaters
•    Large plumbing systems
•    Cooling towers
•    Air-conditioning units for large buildings
•    Decorative fountains


History of Legionnaires


The first case was recognized in 1976 in the Philadelphia American Legion.  Since then, outbreaks of Legionnaires Disease often are covered extensively by the media. Approximately 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized every year and the CDC warns that outbreaks are a growing issue.

The first cases of Pontiac fever occurred in 1968 in Pontiac, Michigan, among people at the city’s health department. It wasn’t until the 1976 outbreak in Philadelphia that health officials were able to see that the same bacterium causes both diseases.


Legionella Injury Lawsuits


OSHA and other health agencies are working to prevent worker exposures and Legionellosis cases, which largely depends on managing effective water systems and programs.

The focus of outbreak prevention programs are hinged on safe water systems and their components, which are areas where Legionella can grow. OSHA has developed more awareness and safety programs to help employers plan and implement water management programs.

Some OSHA standards and regulations that may apply to a workplace focus on record keeping, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Respiratory Protection standards.


Ohio Legionnaires Outbreaks


Following a diagnosis of Legionnaires Disease in a hospital or other long care facility setting, where you suspect there was negligence, or where you simply have questions about what may have happened, you should contact an experienced Ohio attorney.

The Lyon Firm has the resources and knowledge to work alongside expert infectious disease doctors determine the root cause and to develop the compelling evidence to present the highest quality evidence and arguments on the Plaintiff’s behalf.


Legionnaires Disease Risks


The primary source is almost always water pollution. It can usually traced to several secondary sources where there is a breach of relevant health and safety regulations:

  • Negligently Maintained Cooling Towers for Air Conditioning
  • Negligently Maintained Plumbing
  • Negligently Maintained Water Fountains
  • Negligently Maintained Hot Tubs
  • Negligently Maintained Spas
  • Negligently Maintained Showers
  • Negligently Maintained Humidifiers
  • Negligently Maintained Mist Sprayers

Cooling towers are part of large air-conditioning systems, and are used to dissipate unwanted heat through water evaporation. Warm water flows into the top of the cooling tower through tubes and nozzles. As this happens, tiny airborne water droplets and mist are formed.

As water falls through the tower, some of it evaporates. Because evaporation consumes heat, the remaining water is cooled. The cooler fans, however, pushes mist and droplets out of the tower.
 
Cooling towers and evaporative condensers often contain Legionella and other bacteria brought in by air or water. Legionella grows easily and quickly in the water, and is easily dispersed with the misting of the tower system.  Legionella is also been found in hot water tanks, faucets, spas, hot tubs, and humidifiers.
 

How Does Legionella Spread?


Legionnaires’ disease is often categorized as being community, travel or hospital-acquired, based on the type of exposure. If Legionella multiplies in a water system, the contaminated water can spread in droplets small enough for people to breathe in.

A common form of transmission of Legionella is inhalation of contaminated aerosols produced in conjunction with water sprays, jets or mists. (Good examples are humidifiers and whirlpool spas.)

Infection can also pose a particularly dangerous threat to susceptible hospital patients. Cynthia Whitney, chief of the CDC’s respiratory diseases branch, has said that hospitals need to be especially careful about the disease, because some patients often are highly vulnerable to infection.

In one study, almost 40 percent of diagnosed cases of Legionnaires’ were hospital-acquired. In general, Legionnaires’ disease is not spread by human-to-human contact.

People at increased risk of getting sick from Legionella bacteria include the following:

•    People 50 years or older
•    Current or former smokers
•    Heavy consumers of alcohol
•    People with a chronic lung disease (like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema)
•    People with a weak immune system from diseases like cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure
•    People who take drugs that suppress (weaken) the immune system (like after a transplant operation or chemotherapy)
•    People who have undergone recent surgery, presence of nasogastric tubes, and the use of respiratory therapy equipment.


Legionnaire’s Disease Treatment


Legionnaires’ disease varies in severity from a mild illness to a serious and sometimes fatal form of pneumonia. Recovery always requires antibiotic treatment, and is usually complete after several weeks.

Legionnaires’ disease usually worsens during the first week if untreated. About 10 percent of people with Legionnaires’ disease will die from the infection. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the death rate may be as high as 40 to 80 percent in untreated immuno-suppressed patients. Death can occur through progressive pneumonia with respiratory failure or multi-organ failure.

Some cases result in long-term complications.  A study of outbreak survivors showed the majority had a persistence of fatigue, neurologic symptoms and neuromuscular symptoms in the months after infection.


Legionnaires Disease Complications


Treatment guidelines for Legionnaires generally includes one to three weeks of antibiotic treatment. Most patients will improve with antibiotic treatment, though complications may include:

  • High Fever
  • Chest Pain
  • Respiratory  Failure
  • Kidney and Multiple Organ Failure
  • Septic Shock
  • Death

Ohio Legionella Lawsuits


Provided the burden of proof is surmounted, Ohio provides monetary compensation for Legionnaires Disease injuries.  Ohio has damages cap on certain personal injury awards and those damages caps may apply in certain cases where the injury does not permanently affect a bodily organ.

Human error caused more than half of all outbreaks studied by the CDC. Authorities often fail to clean or replace filters on hot tubs or air conditioners. About one in three outbreaks are the result of equipment problems, such as a faulty disinfection system.

“People are unnecessarily and avoidably getting sick from preventable infections,” said CDC director Thomas Frieden. Because of such damaging oversight, city management and building supervisors must be held responsible when people fall ill.

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Why are these cases important?

Serious injuries and accidents often result through no fault of the injured party, yet the injured victim suffers from life altering physical, mental and financial losses. Such economic and human losses can have devastating financial consequences on individuals and families if not properly compensated. Tort law allows those individuals to seek just legal recourse through personal injury lawsuits.

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Questions about Personal Injury Cases

What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Any kind of negligence by an individual or company that causes injury or harm can lead to filing a personal injury lawsuit. The amount a plaintiff is entitled to depends on several factors, particularly how egregious the act and how serious the injury.

Personal injury attorneys generally only will take cases on a confidential and contingency fee basis, which means your lawyer will only get paid if he or she is able to reach a settlement or positive verdict. The Lyon Firm will review your case for free and assess what compensation any plaintiff can expect through litigation.

Personal Injury cases can range from minor auto accidents to complex lawsuits filed against large corporations. The Lyon Firm has handled both with equal care. Severe injury requires legal action on occasion, no matter if the injury is the result of a vehicle accident, a dog bite, a boating accident, workplace injury, defective consumer products, medical malpractice, or toxic exposure.

What is the Process?

Pre-Suit Investigation and Negotiations: Personal injury lawsuits are unique and require a thorough investigation before a lawsuit is filed. An initial investigation involves gathering all relevant medical records, accident reports, and interviews with available witnesses.  Preservation letters are drafted to notify the defendant of the case. The duty to preserve electronic evidence is critical in most cases to prevent spoliation.

Filing a Lawsuit in Cincinnati: If pre-suit negotiations are unsuccessful, then a lawsuit must be filed to preserve the statute of limitations.  Filing a lawsuit early in the process is often necessary to begin gathering evidence while the witnesses memories are fresh and documents remain available.

Once suit is filed by your personal injury lawyer, the court will set a case management schedule and the parties will begin exchanging information in the formal process of discovery. Depositions will be taken to preserve testimony for trial and to understand what certain witnesses are likely to say at trial.

Proving Negligence, Causation and Damages: In addition to lay witness testimony and other documentary evidence, personal injury claims rely upon medical and scientific evidence to prove negligence, causation and damages. The chosen expert in a case must have a reliable and sound basis in science and in the facts of the case or his opinion may not be admissible under the rules of evidence.

In the areas of Toxic and Environmental Torts, the admission of expert testimony may be scrutinized harder than in other areas simply because the subject may not have been as widely tested and may rest on novel scientific theories.

Are there any limits to what I can recover?

Each state will vary. Under Ohio law, an injured party may recover damages related to medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, loss of enjoyment of life, past pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, and punitive damages. The numerical limits are as such:

  1. Non-Catastrophic Injury:   The non-economic award is limited to $250,000 per plaintiff, or three times the economic loss, up to $350,000 per plaintiff. A maximum of $500,000 for each “occurrence.”
  2. Catastrophic Injury: No limits.

The Lyon Firm may be able to file injury claims and recover rightful compensation for clients for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings and long-term disability.

Why should I hire The Lyon Firm?

Our Firm will help you find the answers.  The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered. 

Experience:  Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters.   Personal Injury lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury.  Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.

Resources/Dedication: Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest cases possible for clients and their critical interests.

Results:  Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six figure results in personal injury,  automotive product liability, medical Negligence, construction accidents, and auto dealership negligence casesThe cases have involved successfully litigating against some of  the largest companies in the world.

Our Victories

The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against negligent individuals or companies to obtain just compensation under the law. 

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WRONGFUL DEATH: DISTRACTED DRIVER

(Brown County, Kentucky):   The Lyon Firm was second chair a case involving a driver texting and driving when he crossed the median, killing a father of four. The case was resolved once discovery confirmed the cell phone records proved the texting-related incident. The settlement will pay for the surviving childrens’ education. The driver was likely facing additional criminal charges at the time of the settlement.

$495,000

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT

(Cincinnati, Ohio):  The Lyon Firm was lead counsel in a $495,000 settlement. This case involved a motorcycle operator who sustained fractures of the calcaneus, talus, medial cuneiform, tarsal bones, and tarsometatarsal when a car ignored its driving lane and crossed into his right-of-way. Settlement provided repayment of medical bills of $20,000 and funds for future education to re-enter the work force in a less physically-demanding job.

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