Sands Resort

The Sands Resort in Hampton

BRENTWOOD — Sands Resort Management Co. is denying allegations in lawsuits filed in the wake of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak last summer that caused one death and sickened 17 others.

In recent court filings, the company that operates the Hampton Beach resort at 32 Ashworth Ave. disputes the accusations that allege it was responsible for the illnesses.

Several lawsuits have been filed in Rockingham County Superior Court, including the latest brought this week by Stephen Uliano of Middle Granville, N.Y., who claims he was a guest at the hotel in July and ended up hospitalized with pneumonia-like symptoms that doctors later determined to be Legionnaires’ disease.

State health officials have indicated that the hot tub at the Sands Resort was the source of the illness that infected visitors between June and August. Sixteen of those who were sickened ended up in the hospital.

Gary Burt, a lawyer representing The Lawrence Group Inc., has also filed a response denying the allegations against his client.

The illness is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria and is acquired from breathing in small drops of water than contain the bacteria.

According to state health officials, tests showed water samples taken from the Sands Resort hot tub were found to be growing the same strain of Legionella bacteria that was isolated from a patient diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease and who reported staying at the Sands Resort.

Other defendants named in the suits include The Lawrence Group, doing business as Aqua Paradise Pools & Spas of Portsmouth; and Leonard J. Samia, Thomas J. Saab and Edward J. Saab, who are all trustees of Sands Hotel Realty Trust.

The lawsuits all make similar claims, but the resort denies that it was negligent or liable and that any damage was “wholly or in part due by third party whether named as a party to this action or not, over whom the defendants had no control,” according to a filing by the resort’s attorneys, Stephen Schulthess and Debbie Lorusso Markis.

Since the incident, Sands Resort officials have said the water system has been cleaned and doesn’t have the bacteria.

rockinghamnews@unionleader.com