Over the past several days, our Chicago personal injury lawyers have expressed enormous concern over the number of guests who have been sickened or died from a rare-but-deadly disease at Chicago’s J.W. Marriott hotel last month.
The line of J.W. Marriott hotels and resorts are the luxury division of Marriott International, a hotel chain with more than 500 hotels worldwide.
Now, however, despite the brand’s reputation for opulence, the Chicago Tribune reports that two of the eight persons who contracted Legionnaire’s Disease at the hotel located at 151 W. Adams St., have subsequently died from the infection.
Legionnaire’s disease – the illness to which the Marriott guests fell victim – is a severe form of pneumonia, and symptoms generally include fever, chills, and a cough, as well as muscle aches, headache, tiredness, loss of appetite, loss of coordination and occasionally diarrhea and vomiting. According to the medical journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, mortality for patients diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease is between 5 and 30% if antibiotic therapy is started quickly. Delay in giving the appropriate antibiotic, however, may lead to higher mortality. In response to these latest infections, the Marriott has drained its pool, hot tub, and fountain as a precaution, said the Chicago Tribune.
The Tribune states that none of the eight hotel patrons who contracted the disease are from the Chicagoland area or are being treated in area hospitals, but city officials declined to provide any further information about them, citing privacy laws.
Because the Legionella bacteria that cause Legionnaire’s Disease are usually spread by water vapor, the hotel drained its pool, whirlpool and fountain, and closed parts of its spa, following news of the outbreak.
The fact that the hotel took immediate steps to prevent further spread of the disease is certainly laudable, but corrective measures are not sufficient to relieve the hotel of potential liability that may arise from having exposed customers to potentially life-threatening bacteria.
In this particular situation, as in other cases of injuries that happen on properties managed by others, a significant branch of Chicago personal injury law known as Illinois premises liability law allows victims to be compensated if the negligence of the property owner was the cause of that harm. In general, Illinois premises liability law requires that when a commercial property – such as a hotel – is used in a way to make a profit, those in charge of the land have a duty to inspect the premises for any potential dangers, and remedy the problem before other persons enter onto the property. If it is found that Marriott was negligent in its duty to prevent the spread of disease, the corporation may be on the hook for a significant amount of money to compensate victims for their respective losses. This would include Illinois wrongful death cases such as suits that could potentially arise from the two disease-related deaths, in which family members would be allowed file claims to potentially make the wrongdoer pay damages for things such as the loss of companionship, monetary damages to cover the earnings the deceased person would have provided, and expenses associated with the death such as funeral and burial costs, as well as having to experience grief and sorrow as a result of losing a loved one.