BRENTWOOD — A Hampton hotel is facing a wrongful-death lawsuit over last summer’s outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease after a Massachusetts man died.
Joyce M. Vaughn of Ludlow, Mass., filed suit against Sands Resort Management Co. and others on Friday following the death of her father, Albert L. Vaughn, who was found dead in his apartment on Aug. 24, 2018, after contracting the illness.
According to the suit filed in Rockingham County Superior Court on behalf of Vaughn’s estate, Legionella bacteria was confirmed as the cause of his death.
The suit said Albert Vaughn of Springfield, Mass., and his girlfriend stayed at the hotel on Ashworth Avenue from Aug. 6 to Aug. 9, 2018. During his visit, the suit said, Vaughn spent time in or near the area of the hotel’s spa.
The suit said it’s believed that Vaughn inhaled and ingested Legionella bacteria that was in the spa and the hotel’s potable water systems.
The illness is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria, and it is acquired from breathing in small drops of water that contain the bacteria.
According to the suit, Vaughn became sick after he returned home and left work early on Aug. 20 as his illness advanced.
“In the ensuing days, he suffered in his apartment under the false hope that he would survive the illness,” said the suit, filed through Vaughn’s attorney, Emile R. Bussiere Jr. of the Manchester law firm Bussiere & Bussiere.
In addition to Sands Resort Management Co. the suit names as defendants The Lawrence Group Inc., which does business as Aqua Paradise Pools & Spa, and trustees of the Sands Realty Trust: Leonard J. Samia, Thomas J. Saab and Edward J. Saab.
The suit accuses the defendants of negligence and makes claims similar to those in several other suits filed in the wake of the outbreak. The defendants have not yet filed a response to the wrongful-death suit, but have denied many of the allegations outlined in the other cases.
According to a recently issued report by the state’s Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, epidemiologists identified 49 people with confirmed, probable or suspected Legionellosis during their investigation, including two who died.
Nearly 70 percent of the patients had stayed at The Sands Resort within 14 days of developing symptoms, and those who didn’t stay at the hotel reported being in the vicinity, the state concluded.
“The inadequate maintenance of The Sands Resort hot tub as well as other conditions within the facility, such as low hot water temperatures, may have favored the growth of legionella bacteria,” the bureau wrote in its report.
It wrote that six samples of bacteria taken from the hot tub contained the same bacteria strain “found in respiratory specimens from two people with confirmed Legionnaires’ disease who stayed at The Sands Resort.”
Sands Resort officials have said the water system has since been cleaned and doesn’t contain the bacteria.