Lawsuit alleges Legionnaires’ disease contracted at Millbrook hotel

Published 10:36am Thursday, August 14, 2014

Parents of a Birmingham area softball team are suing a hotel chain after they and some of their children contracted Legionnaires’ disease in the Millbrook hotel’s swimming pool and hot tub.

Twelve members of a softball team ages 11-13, two coaches and several parents stayed at the Sleep Inn & Suites July 12 and 13 for a softball tournament, which was held in Prattville.

Members of the team, coaches and parents said they went swimming in the hotel’s pool and also got into the indoor hot tub.

Not long after returning home a majority of the team and some of the adults developed flu-like symptoms and difficulty breathing, which falls in line with Legionnaires’ disease.

“Three people so far who were tested, did test positive for Legionnaires’ disease,” said Ben Locklar, an attorney in the Beasley Allen law firm who filed the lawsuit on Wednesday on the parents and children’s behalf. “Some continue to have respiratory issues.”

Legionnaires’ typically is a bacterium found in water if it is not properly treated.

People get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor containing the bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“One example might be from breathing in droplets sprayed from a hot tub that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected,” according to the CDC’s website.

Locklar said not all of the members of the team, coaches or parents have been tested as of yet.

He said some who were tested did not test positive for the disease.

Locklar said he is “99.99 percent sure” those who did test positive for Legionnaires did contract it from the pool and or the hot tub.

One of the parents, Clayton Wheat, spent almost a week in the hospital, Locklar said.

Locklar said he reached out to the hotel and to corporate Choice Hotels International, Inc. and “their response was nil.”

“They are blaming someone else, so they have left us with no choice,” Locklar said.

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