Lawsuits stemming from 2018 Legionnaire's disease outbreak in Hampton settled

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Jul. 20—Lawsuits brought by guests sickened by the 2018 outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at The Sands Resort hotel in Hampton were settled earlier this year, according to notations in court records.

Terms of the settlements were not disclosed, and a lawyer who filed 15 lawsuits — Emile Bussiere Jr. of Manchester — said he could not discuss the matter.

The outbreak took place in the summer of 2018, landing 16 people in the hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms. Two died.

State health officials traced the outbreak to a hot tub at The Sands, which is located on Ashworth Avenue about a block from the beach. Health officials determined that inadequate maintenance of the hot tub and low temperature of hot water may have favored the growth of the legionella bacteria.

The Sands would not comment for this article, and in court filings has generally denied responsibility for the outbreak.

Legionella bacteria can be found in water and soil and can infect humans exposed to aerosolized water, like that in hot tubs.

The bacteria can cause Legionnaires' disease, a pneumonia-like illness that causes death in as many as 10% of its patients, and Pontiac fever, which is characterized by mild flu-like symptoms, according to the state Bureau of Infectious Disease Control.

Former hotel guests started filing lawsuits by the end of 2018, and eventually 18 suits were filed against Sands Resort Management Co. and other co-defendants.

In February, Bussiere filed four suits against the Travelers insurance company and named The Sands as a co-defendant. By April, they filed notice of a settlement.

mhayward@unionleader.com