OCEAN CITY — Three weeks after a Virginia couple filed a $6 million suit against a historic Boardwalk hotel and its ownership group after one of them allegedly fell ill to Legionnaire’s Disease, the defendants this week denied the allegations and are seeking a dismissal of the case.
In October, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Worcester County Health Department confirmed the presence of legionellosis, more commonly known as Legionnaire’s Disease, in the water system at the Plim Plaza Hotel on the Boardwalk after as many as six individuals who had stayed at the facility during the late summer months had contracted the disease. One of the victims, an elderly out-of-state guest at the hotel, later succumbed to symptoms of the disease.
On April 18, a Virginia couple, Pat Eldon Dent, Jr. and his wife Martha Dent, filed suit in U.S. District Court alleging negligence on the part of the hotel for failing to “adequately inspect, monitor and maintain its premises and the hotel’s water system for dangerous conditions, including but not limited to the presence of legionella.” The Virginia couple is seeking a total of $6 million in compensatory damages, including $5 million for the negligence count and an additional $1 million for loss of consortium.
According to the complaint, Dent required an extensive hospitalization during which he was intubated for approximately six weeks, which included a tube down his throat and a tracheostomy tube. He experienced renal failure, septic shock and respiratory failure. Dent also required a feeding tube and catheter for approximately six weeks and incurred bills in excess of $200,000.
After a link between the ill victims and the Plim Plaza was established in October, the DHMH Laboratories Administration conducted extensive testing and confirmed the presence of legionella bacteria in water collected at the facility. Legionella pneumophia, the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s Disease, was detected in water collected from various locations at the hotel.
This week, the Harrison Group and Plim Plaza, through their attorney, filed a formal answer to the suit, denying its allegations and seeking its dismissal.
“Defendants admit that they owed certain duties to the plaintiffs under law and appropriately discharged all such duties,” the formal answer reads. “Defendants deny that they failed to exercise reasonable care in the discharge of those duties. Defendants deny that the hotel’s water system became contaminated with dangerous levels of the Legionella bacteria from July 29, 2011 to August 1, 2011.”