Source: Claims Management, June 2013
By: Thomas P. Bernier and Susan E. Smith
Claims Investigation and Defense Strategies for an Emerging Trend
What is Legionnaires’ disease? Legionnaires’ disease, or legionellosis, is a serious, potentially lethal type of pneumonia that is caused by bacteria of the genus Legionella. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 8,000 to 18,000 persons are hospitalized each year with the disease. There were 3,522 reported cases in 2009, the most since 1976 when the CDC first required case reporting. The incidence of reported Legionnaires’ disease cases in the United States tripled between 2000 and 2009, with medical costs estimated at $321 million per year.
As investigation and reporting have become more sophisticated, public awareness of this disease is growing, and legal action by those alleging to have contracted the disease is definitely on the rise. Claims are typically made by individuals who develop flu-like symptoms or pneumonia after staying at an apartment building, hotel, or hospital.
Legionellae are waterborne bacteria that are found in many different water sources. They have proven to be more tolerant of normal chlorine levels than other bacteria and are often present in municipal water supplies and potable water distribution systems. Interestingly, physical contact with or even consumption of water that contains these bacteria does not put a person at risk of infection. Rather, the affected water must become aerosolized into fine droplets, mist, or spray. Only then is a person who inhales sufficient amounts of aerosolized water containing virulent forms of legionellae at risk of infection. Certain individuals, such as the elderly, smokers, and those with lung or kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, or compromised immune systems, are more vulnerable to infection and are at a high risk of contracting the disease after exposure. Legionellosis is not a contagious disease and cannot be passed from one infected host to another.…
Source: South Florida Business Journal, December 4, 2012
By: Paul Brinkmann
One of South Florida’s best-known plaintiffs firms, Coral Gables-based Colson Hicks Eidson, is among the first to handle a lawsuit connected to the Oct. 10 Miami Dade College parking garage collapse in Doral.
Colson Hicks attorney Ervin Gonzalez, is representing Migdalia Lopez, widow of Samuel Perez, who died after he was trapped in a truck for 17 hours and had his legs amputated. Another Coral Gables law firm – Bello, Martinez and Ramirez – is co-counsel on the case.
The suit names Tallahassee-based Ajax Building Corp.; MAR Contracting of Doral; MEP Structural Engineering and Inspections of Coconut Creek; engineering firm Bliss & Nyitray, Coral Gables; and architecture firm Harvard Jolly of St. Petersburg.
Perez, 53, was one of four construction workers killed after a parking garage that was under construction. He was driving a cement truck at the project site during the time of the collapse.
The lawsuit demands judgment against the defendants for all damages recoverable under the Florida Wrongful Death Act. The complaint alleges gross negligence, breach of duty and a failure to comply with minimal standards required to ensure site safety, construction means and methods, inspection, and follow up, including rushing the operation to meet a deadline.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants were well aware of the dangers associated with the construction method and concealed or misrepresented the dangers.
Gonzalez is a well-known plaintiffs lawyer who has recently been in the news as a member of the steering committee for national litigation over defective Chinese drywall.
In a news release, he said defendants in the college parking garage lawsuit “built a house of cards with a conscious disregard for the dangers associated with the project, and it eventually came tumbling down, killing innocent people and devastating families.”
Perez worked in the construction industry for 20 years after migrating to Miami from Cuba.…
Source: Engineering News-Record, November 26, 2012
By: Scott Judy
Two independent sources with knowledge of the investigation into the Oct. 10 collapse of a parking garage at Miami Dade College have refuted a claim reported by Engineering News-Record that the structure was struck a second time by a crane pick just prior to the fatal incident.
Officials with the project’s general contractor, Ajax Building Corp., were the first to dispute the claim. Bill Byrne, president of the Tallahassee, Fla.-based firm, stated by email: “We are not aware of any precast panels having hit the structure. (And) we are not aware of any crack that required inspection.”
Company officials also stated to ENR: “Ajax continues to work very closely with OSHA and others to determine what happened to cause the tragic accident at MDC.”
Additionally, a source involved in one of the numerous investigations under way at the site told ENR that the story reporting that a crane had struck the building a second time was “erroneous.”
ENR’s story reported information from an anonymous source with detailed knowledge of the incident who asserted that a crane pick involving a precast section had struck a building column for a second time on Oct. 10, just prior to the collapse. He said that the previously cracked column had been further damaged. The source also said the crane was lifting “tilt-wall” panels, but Ajax reports that no tilt-wall panels were used on the job.
The roughly 125,000-sq-ft structure collapsed near midday of Oct. 10, killing four workers.
Ajax’s Byrne acknowledged a day after the incident that a crane operated by Sims Crane & Equipment Co., Tampa, had struck a building column with its boom on Oct. 8, damaging the crane, but asserted that it had not caused any damage to the structure.
Officials with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration would not comment on the still-open investigation.
Miami law firm Alan Goldfarb P.A., filed suit in late October on behalf of Laurel Budhoo, the widow of Robert Budhoo, one of the workers killed in the collapse. The lawsuit originally named the following as defendants: Ajax Building Corp., Coreslab Structures, Harvard Jolly Inc., Bliss & Nyitray, Sims Crane & Equipment Co.; and Solar Erectors. Liah Catanese, an attorney with the firm, told ENR that the firm is preparing a revised complaint that will add additional firms to the suit.
Publication Date: 12/28/10
Source: Miami Herald
Posted By: http://envfpn.advisen.com
When one of South Florida’s largest home builders received a federal permit seven years ago for a development called Islands of Doral, the approval came with some conditions.
To compensate for destroying 415 acres of maleleuca-infested wetlands in West Miami-Dade County, Century Homebuilders agreed to set aside another 47 acres and create a wetlands preserve by removing the exotic species and replanting with spikerush, pond apple and other native foliage.
Century never completed the job.…
Acknowledgement to Ironshore Environmental
By Barbara De Lollis, USA TODAY
In the last three months, a European tourist who’d stayed at the luxury EPIC Hotel in downtown Miami died from Legionnaires’ disease, while two other prior guests had fallen ill with the same serious form of pneumonia, according to the Miami Herald.
Because all three people had stayed at the EPIC, Miami-Dade Health Department officials on Friday issued an advisory to EPIC Hotel guests. Since then, EPIC had to relocate some 400 guests so they’d stop coming into contact with the hotel’s water, which is what health officials believe is the problem, the Herald article says.
Hotel officials are currently working with health officials to resolve the problem, according to a company statement (see below). The EPIC – opened less than a year ago by San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels – has temporarily stopped accepting new guests, the statement says.…
Acknowledgement to Ironshore Environmental
The Associated Press
Published: Monday, December 14, 2009 at 9:24 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 14, 2009 at 2:48 p.m.
MIAMI – About 300 guests have been relocated from a luxury Miami hotel after one guest died and at least two others became sick since October from Legionnaire’s disease.
Health officials say the guests at the EPIC Hotel were sent to nearby hotels Sunday to prevent further contact with the waterborne bacterial disease.
People can become infected by breathing in mist or vapor contaminated with the bacteria. It cannot spread from person to person, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An investigation revealed that the hotel had installed a water filter powerful enough to remove chlorine from its city-supplied water, which encouraged bacterial growth.
County health officials have not specified yet when the man died or released any information about him.…
Acknowledgement to Ironshore Environmental
BY DOUGLAS HANKS III
The developer of Miami’s mammoth Four Seasons tower is facing millions of dollars in lawsuits over a mold outbreak at a similar high-end condominium complex in Washington, D.C.
Millennium Partners is wrapping up an extensive clean-up and relocation effort at its new Ritz-Carlton project in Washington, where it says faulty plumbing spawned an outbreak of mold. Residents sued the New York-based developer, saying the black, inky fungus caused health problems and forced them to abandon their luxury units.…