SOURCE: The Fernandez Firm

The Fernandez Firm

February 25, 2014 09:42 ET

Fernandez Firm Seeks Justice for Retirees Stricken With Legionnaires' Disease

Compensation Sought for Seniors' Pain, Disability and Loss of Enjoyment of Life

TAMPA, FL--(Marketwired - Feb 25, 2014) - On January 2, 2014, The Fernandez Firm filed personal injury lawsuits on behalf of Mabel McDougall and Roger Laquerre, two elderly residents of The Meadows at Countrywood, who contracted Legionnaires' disease from a decorative fountain on the premises of the Plant City Florida retirement community.

Legionnaires' disease is a form of pneumonia caused by infection of Legionella bacteria, which grow in warm, stagnant water. Ms. McDougall and Mr. Laquerre allege that The Meadows allowed a decorative fountain, which stood near the community clubhouse, to "become overgrown with algae and bacteria-laden water." The retirees maintain that they were exposed to Legionella bacteria through proximity to the neglected fountain.

An independent environmental testing agency took water samples from the fountain for analysis. Those test results led health department officials to conclude that the fountain was "the likely source" of the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in The Meadows. The fountain has since been removed from the premises by the owners of the community.

A multi-agency investigation by officials from the Hillsborough County Health Department found that water samples from the decorative fountain tested positive for the same strain of Legionella bacteria that sickened Ms. McDougall, Mr. Laquerre and a third resident, Gene Swanson, who died from complications of Legionnaires' disease. Mr. Swanson's family filed a separate wrongful-death lawsuit seeking compensation for his premature death.

The health department officials determined that the fountain in question sat idle, filled with standing water, for months. During this period, water temperatures in the fountain climbed to more than 70 degrees. The combination of the high water temperatures and the fountain's inactivity allowed the Legionella bacteria to flourish inside the fountain, according to health department officials.

This is not the first time an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease has been linked to a decorative fountain. A 2010 outbreak of Legionnaires' in Wisconsin was linked to a fountain in a hospital lobby, according to a study published in February 2012.

Prior to contracting Legionnaires' disease, Ms. McDougall had been an active member of the retirement community and an integral part of event organization. However, after recovering from her illness, Ms. McDougall has been unable to reprise her previous role and continues to struggle with the lasting effects of the Legionnaires' disease. Due to his compromised heath, Mr. Laquerre was forced to sell his home in The Meadows and now resides in an out of state assisted living facility.

The Fernandez Firm is seeking damages for Ms. McDougall's and Mr. Laquerre's hospital and medical expenses. The firm also seeks compensation for their clients' pain, suffering, disability and loss of enjoyment of life caused by the Legionnaires' outbreak.

About The Fernandez Firm
The Fernandez Firm represents individuals and families who have suffered personal injuries and wrongful death throughout Florida. For the almost 20 years, their attorneys have handled thousands of Florida personal injury cases. To learn more about services offered by the Fernandez Firm, contact them today.