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The Millbrook Independent

Oct 23rd
Complaint of Legionnaires’ disease leads to suit against Millbrook hotel
Written by News Desk   
Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:50

8-21sleepinnPhoto: A view of Sleep Inns & Suites. The hotel's parent company is buing sued by two Birmingham-area familes who visited Millbrook for a softball tournament and got sick.

Staff Report

The law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., has filed a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of two Jefferson County families, the Wheats and the Rentas, against Choice Hotels International, Inc. the parent company of the Sleep Inns and Suites on Cobbs Ford Road in Millbrook. The families were visiting Millbrook for a softball tournament.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.

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 and several of those individuals have tested positive for Legionnaires disease. Legionnaires disease is a severe respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Legionella. Ben Locklar with Beasley Allen Law Firm is representing the plaintiffs.

"The information we have received, so far, is that more than 14 people have come ill. We are still identifying people. The best information we have is that three people had tests that confirmed Legionnellas disease," Locklar said.

The suit notes that several members of girls and members of their families used the indoor pool and hot tub and subsequently became ill with some members even being hospitalized.

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.

"One thing all of those who developed symptoms had in common was an overnight stay at the Sleep Inn and Suites in Millbrook" said Locklar. "Guests expect a reasonable amount of care to be taken in regards to health and safety. It is clear 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."

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.

"We do not have any indication at this point that there is a problem with the City of Millbrook's water system. Our belief is that this is a water quality control issue at this hotel.

"Beasley, Allen wrote to the hotel and asked that they be contacted about this matter, but that request was ignored," Loclar said. "Beasley, Allen anticipates filing suit on behalf of other families in the very near future."

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