NAPA, Calif. (KRON) — A lawsuit was filed against a Napa hotel on Wednesday after 17 people contacted Legionnaires’ disease, and one died over the summer. According to a press release by Riley Ersoff LLP, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Napa Valley carried water that contained more than 30 times the acceptable level of Legionella bacteria.
The action was filed by Jason Groshart, 51, of Calistoga, CA. The press release alleges that Groshart was exposed to Legionella bacteria while celebrating the Fourth of July holiday in downtown Napa.
Seventeen people got sick from the disease and one died, Napa County Public Health confirmed to KRON4.
Attorney Grant Riley of Riley Ersoff LLP said that none of the 17 victims were guests at the hotel. However, Groshart’s complaint alleges that the virus can be contracted by anyone within 3.7 miles of the contaminated water system.
“Since none of the injured parties apparently visited the hotel, we are concerned that there could be additional victims out there that were treated for pneumonia but who are oblivious to the true cause of their illness,” said Victoria Ersoff of Riley Ersoff LLP.
According to the CDC, the disease is primarily caused by inhalation of aerosolized water containing Legionella bacteria. It can also be transmitted by aspiration of drinking water. Legionnaires’ disease causes severe pneumonia requiring hospitalization.
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The press release says that the hotel initially refused to cooperate with a Napa County Public Health inspection of a cooling tower at the hotel. On Aug. 2, the health department issued an order forcing the hotel to allow access. Water samples revealed high levels of Legionella bacteria in the cooling tower, according to the press release.
When reached for comment, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Napa Valley released the following statement:
Thank you for your inquiry to Hilton regarding Embassy Suites by Hilton Napa Valley, however the hotel cannot comment on matters pending litigation.