Man Sues Opera House Hotel In The Bronx After Contracting Legionnaires’ Disease

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man who spent several days in the hospital after coming down with Legionnaires’ disease has filed a civil lawsuit against the Bronx hotel that has been identified by authorities as the source of the outbreak.

Leslie Noble’s suit against the Opera House Hotel says its “negligence, carelessness and recklessness” caused physical pain and mental anguish to the 54-year-old security guard.

Noble’s attorney, Ronald Katter, said he is still recuperating from his illness, which had him hospitalized for five days, and it’s unclear what kind of long-term effect it might have on his health.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, Katter noted that Noble suffered a severe form of pneumonia.

“That takes its toll on someone, so he certainly wasn’t able to work for that time,” Katter said.

Noble was not a guest at the Opera House Hotel, but he lives a few blocks away.

“Having to suffer an illness that was totally unexpected and preventable certainly makes him an unlikely and unhappy victim of this circumstance,” Katter said.

Katter is also representing three others suing the hotel.

MORE: Five Facts About Legionnaires’ Disease

Twelve people died in a Legionnaires’ outbreak in the South Bronx this month, and 128 were sickened. City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said the source was pinpointed the source to the cooling tower atop the Opera House Hotel in Mott Haven.

Once the source was discovered, city officials also declared the outbreak over, saying there have been no new cases since Aug. 3. The incubation period for the disease is two to 10 days.

Mayor Bill de Blasio this week signed new legislation into law aimed at regulating cooling towers in response to the outbreak.

The new law requires landlords to register, inspect and regularly clean cooling towers. Building owners would also need to get an annual certification. Those who do not comply would face fines up to $25,000, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

The hotel cooperated fully to resolve the issue, and tests have come back clean, spokesman Michael McKeon said.

“Our tower was just two years old, has the most modern technology, and our maintenance plan was consistent with the new regulations the city and state are just now putting into place,” McKeon said.

He added, “We expect that some lawyers will attempt to cash in on this unfortunate event, but we have lawyers to handle these matters, too.”

Legionnaires’ disease — a form of pneumonia especially dangerous for the elderly and for people with underlying health issues — can usually be traced to places favorable to Legionella growth such as cooling towers, hot water tanks, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers and condensers in large air conditioning systems. It is spread through contaminated mist and is not contagious.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea.

The suit was filed last week. It seeks unspecified damages.

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