When Millie and Morry Natal of Rochester New York checked into the Best Western Sovereign in Albany New York on November 24, 2011, the plan was to get some rest after a Thanksgiving celebration with relatives. Consistent with his normal routine, Morry, who is 80-years old, took a shower and brushed his teeth. He also drank a glass of water from his hotel room sink to wash down his medication. Morry then climbed into his hotel room bed, and went to sleep.
Unbeknownst to Morry, his normal routine – shared that night by all of the guests in that and every other hotel in the county – would soon land him in the hospital for a very extended stay. What Morry did not know was that the water in the Best Western contained abnormally high levels of legionella bacteria.
According to the Center for Disease Control t Prevention, human’s contract legionnaire’s disease from exposure to such bacteria in water vapor and mist, such as that found in showers, as well as in water used for drinking. The CDC reports that “Each year, between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease in the U.S. However, many infections are not diagnosed or reported, so this number may be higher.”
Legionnaire’s disease can have many symptoms, such as coughing, chills, fever, and joint aches. The Mayo Clinic describes Legionnaire’s disease as a “severe form of pneumonia. The symptoms usually appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. In severe cases, which total approximately 4,000 per year according to the United States Department of Labor, death can result.
Morry began exhibiting symptoms several days later, and was admitted to the hospital on December 7. He spent 2 months there, including significant time in the ICU. Although he has a long road of recovery ahead, he feels very lucky to be alive.
The New York Department of Health recently confirmed that tests of the Best Western’s water revealed higher than normal levels of legionella bacteria. Peter Constantakes of the Department reported that six cases of Legionnaire’s disease have been linked to the hotel.
Mr. and Mrs. Natal have retained Wites Law Firm, a national law firm with offices in New York and Florida, to investigate the case. Mr. Wites explained that Morry’s 2-month hospital stay caused Morry to endure significant pain and suffering, as did his wife Millie, he worried daily that Morry might not survive. Wites Law Firm and the Natals plan to pursue claims against all parties that are responsible for Morry’s and Millie’s emotional and physical damages.