Litigation Trumping Legionnaire’s Disease Regulation

RiskNomics’ Russ Nassof was recently quoted in an article by Brett Walton with Circle of Blue, where water speaks. Here are a few excerpts:

Health department officials investigate outbreaks, which are two or more cases linked to the same source. Those inquiries can be a boon to people filing a lawsuit if the health department investigation turns up solid evidence that connects the bacteria at the source to the bacteria that sickened individuals.

If there is no direct link to a bacteria source, having a water management plan in place that adheres to one of the industry standards is a good defense for a building owner in the event that someone gets sick, according to Russell Nassof, founder of the health risk consulting firm RiskNomics.

Environmental investigations for Legionnaires’ disease are complex and a “smoking gun” link between source of transmission and patient is hard to trace, Nassof said. Evidence that a building is checking its chlorine levels and water temperatures and periodically flushing its pipes is firm ground to stand on.

“If you have potential exposure points out there, different exposure points, and you have one, for example, with good documentation and a water management plan that has been maintaining their building pristinely, then in all likelihood you would start to look at other sources for potential liability,” Nassof told Circle of Blue.

Later, Russ was asked again about ASHRAE Standard 188:

“With the growing number of guidelines and regulations, and a purported standard in ASHRAE Standard 188, plaintiffs’ attorneys may find it less difficult to establish what they argue as the standard of care in the prevention of Legionella amplification in a building that causes an exposure and illness,” Bernier recently wrote in Law 360.

“I tell our clients, to the extent that you have your t’s crossed and i’s dotted and you’ve got a water management program in place that meets ASHRAE 188, that’s a really good defense,” Nassof said.

You can read the entire article, including an informative audio presentation, by clicking here.

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