A personal injury lawsuit has been filed by two Jefferson County, Ala., families. Clayton Wheat and Tony Renta, along with several members of a girls’ softball team, became ill after a weekend stay at the Sleep Inn & Suites in Prattville-Millbrook. A number of the individuals who stayed at the Sleep Inn & Suites, including several who were part of the girls’ softball team, became ill. Several of those individuals have tested positive for Legionnaires disease, is a severe respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Legionella.
Guests at a hotel or motel expect a reasonable amount of care to be taken in regards to health and safety. It’s alleged that the hotel’s water system and cooling system have not been properly maintained and that the infected were unknowingly exposed to bacteria-laden water, mist and air at the hotel. The Wheat and Renta families were in the area for a local softball tournament. Shortly after the tournament weekend, at least 14 people became sick with flu-like symptoms including difficulty breathing, elevated temperature, body aches, dizziness, headaches, and chills.
Legionnaires disease is typically contracted by inhaling or ingesting Legionella bacteria. The bacteria can also cause related illness, such as Pontiac fever, pneumonia, and other serious and sometimes permanent health conditions. Legionella bacterium is commonly found in water or in mist. If water sources are not properly cleaned or treated, those who come in contact with the contaminated water can ingest the dangerous bacteria and become seriously ill or die. Legionella can also form in air conditioning duct systems and be inhaled by others who are exposed to the mist from those systems. Legionella cannot be transmitted from person to person. The Defendant named in the lawsuit is Choice Hotels International, Inc., doing business as Sleep Inn & Suites Millbrook -Prattville. Ben Locklar, a lawyer in our firm’s Personal Injury/Product Liability Section, is the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.
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