OCEAN CITY — A Florida woman this week filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court seeking damages against an Ocean City high-rise condominium after she was afflicted with Legionnaire’s Disease while at the facility in October 2015.
On Monday, Mary Ann and Ronald Budra of Bonita Springs, Fla. filed suit in U.S. District Court alleging negligence by the Golden Sands Condominium in north Ocean City after she became ill and was diagnosed with Legionnaire’s Disease in October 2015. The suit is seeking an undisclosed amount of damages against the condominium exceeding $75,000, according to court documents.
The suit filed on Monday in U.S. District court is the second against the Golden Sands for the same outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease in 2015. In November, Virginia couple Clara and Ronnie Offer filed suit against the condominium after Clara Offer was diagnosed with Legionnaire’s and the two complaints are both being handled by the same Timonium law firm and contain nearly identical language.
The complaint filed on Monday asserts the victim had stayed at the Golden Sands from May 2015 to October 2015 when she became ill with symptoms of pneumonia. When her condition worsened, she was hospitalized and was later tested for the presence of the Legionella bacteria, which is found in tiny droplets of mist or vapor in commercial water systems.
When a second victim was diagnosed with Legionnaire’s Disease, the common denominator was determined to be the Golden Sands condominium in Ocean City where both of the victims had stayed. The Worcester County Health Department conducted tests of the water system at the Golden Sands and determined the presence of the Legionella bacteria.
As a result, the Golden Sands was ordered to hire a water management consultant to first eliminate the sources of the Legionella bacteria at the condo building and then implement a plan to ensure it did not return including the installation of additional water treatment systems. The Golden Sands water system was then tested regularly in the weeks that followed to ensure the Legionella bacteria had not returned.
The complaint filed on Monday asserts the victim continues to suffer from symptoms related to Legionnaire’s and will continue to for the rest of her life.
“Ms. Budra has since been diagnosed with ongoing lung disease, ocular injuries, hair loss, fatigue and other symptoms and diagnoses all secondary to Legionnaire’s Disease,” the complaint reads. “These conditions are permanent.”
The complaint filed on Monday asserts the Golden Sands was negligent in that it did not take precautions to prevent the presence of Legionella bacteria.
“The defendant Golden Sands Condominiums was negligent in failing to inspect, detect, correct, remove or repair the hazardous condition existing on the premises, thereby creating an unreasonable risk of injury to lawful entrants including Ms. Budra,” the complaint reads. “The defendant knew or should have known of the defective and hazardous condition existing on the premises and that the failure to inspect, detect, correct, remove or repair said conditions was likely to result in the injuries suffered by Ms. Budra.”
The Worcester County Health Department and similar agencies do not regularly test for the presence of Legionella bacteria in water systems and typically tests are only done after there are reports of illness. In this case, and others before it in the resort area, the water system at the Golden Sands was only tested for the presence of Legionella bacteria after two illnesses with the same common denominator were reported.