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Legionella bacteria found in Atlanta hotel

Nevada residents may be aware that at least one death has been attributed to a recent outbreak of Legionnaire's disease at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed 13 cases of the disease and identified a further 66 probable cases. A GDPH representative said on Aug. 15 that traces of Legionella bacteria had been found in water samples collected from the Sheraton's cooling tower and an atrium fountain.

Legionnaire's disease is a potentially deadly form of pneumonia spread by a bacteria that lives in freshwater. The bacteria poses a public health hazard when it enters a building's water system and collects in hot water tanks and cooling towers. Symptoms of the disease include chills, fatigue, nausea, breathing difficulties and bouts of coughing. These signs can persist for two months after patients start receiving treatment.

A 67-year-old man who claims that he contracted Legionnaire's disease at the hotel while photographing a conference has filed a lawsuit against the companies that own the property and its general manager. He is seeking unspecified damages for his lost income, medical bills and pain and suffering. The man's attorney says that he cannot think of a reason other than gross negligence for the outbreak. Legal analysts expect more litigation to be filed in connection with the outbreak in the months ahead and say that a class action lawsuit is likely.

Personal injury attorneys with experience in premises liability cases may advise their clients not to join a class action in certain circumstances. While the damages awarded in class action lawsuits are often high, the amount each plaintiff receives may be modest. If their clients suffered more severe injury, loss or damage than other members of the class, attorneys may suggest pursuing an individual lawsuit instead.

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