Who is legally responsible (and liable) for a Legionnaires’ outbreak? And what you should know.
Using detailed discovery in Legionnaires disease litigation and investigation may reveal facts that are not readily apparent from the outset. Where it may appear that the company with the sign on the outside of the business seemed to create the exposure to legionella bacteria, there may be additional companies that are actually the responsible parties.
Let’s use the example of a hotel and an exposure to legionella in a pool. It may be that the national hotel chain would be the likely defendant in a lawsuit. One of the surprising facts that are revealed through discovery, or especially in pre-suit investigation for a Legionnaires case, is that the national hotel chain may not be responsible at all. Partnerships, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS), and other corporate creations may actually be the party that needs to be identified.
As another example, in a recent suit seeking more than $300,000 in damages, the property management company of a hotel chain was also named as a defendant in a Legionnaires case.
In addition to the major defendant (the hotel in the example) there will likely be a water treatment and testing company that services the hotel or facility that may also be responsible for the legionella exposure. These companies are important parties to identify because they usually keep detailed records on the treatment of the water source. These records are most important in developing the case and supporting the claim of negligence.
Identifying the Actual Parties as Defendants
It is vitally important to identify the actual parties to name as defendants, and to understand the interplay between them. Many examples exist where parties that have joint responsibility for a Legionnaires’ disease exposure or injury will direct their focus on the other defendant(s) in order to avoid their own liability. This conflict may actually assist the injured party in resolving their claim earlier than if only one defendant was named.