The Georgia Department of Public Health reported on Aug. 12 that one person has died and a further 63 have become ill in connection with an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease at an Atlanta area hotel. At least a dozen cases have been confirmed by lab tests. One lawsuit has been filed against the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel over the outbreak, and legal experts expect many more. The 67-year-old man who filed the lawsuit wants a jury trial and is seeking damages to compensate him for his medical bills, pain and suffering and lost income.

The man’s attorney says that the Legionnaire’s disease outbreak could only have been caused by gross negligence on the part of the hotel. The disease is caused by bacteria commonly found in fresh water that can become dangerous when it enters building water systems and is allowed to grow. The condition can be fatal if it is not treated in a timely manner. Those who do receive treatment suffer symptoms including fever, shortness of breath, chills, chest pains and severe coughing. These symptoms can persist for up to eight weeks after treatment begins.

The outbreak prompted Sheraton to temporarily close its Atlanta location on July 15. Public health officials were later sent in to collect samples for lab testing. A Sheraton representative declined to comment on ongoing litigation, but he said that the hotel chain had taken preventative steps that included cleaning the entire water system. He also said that those affected had the chain’s deepest sympathies.

When preparing a premises liability lawsuit involving a plaintiff who became ill due to the reckless actions of a hotel owner or operator, experienced personal injury attorneys may look for evidence of prior negligence. These efforts may include checking court records for previous lawsuits and checking online review and social media websites for customer feedback about unhygienic conditions and lax oversight.