Hampton Beach NH Sands Resort settles Legionnaires’ disease lawsuits
HAMPTON – More than a dozen lawsuits filed against the Beach resort of the sands resulting from the 2018 Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak at the Hampton Beach Hotel have been resolved.
The epidemic claimed the lives of two people and sickened dozens of people, leading to litigation.
The 17 cases filed in Rockingham Superior Court against Sands Resort Management Co. and the property managers at 32 Ashworth Ave. are now closed. The court docket reads “Judgment for neither party. No costs, interest, or attorney’s fees awarded. No other action for same cause.”
Manchester barrister Emile R. Bussiere Jr, of Bussiere & Bussiere, who represented the majority of the alleged victims, told the court in March that “they are actively discussing the possibility of all cases involved being determined by binding arbitration private”.
The two parties informed the court towards the end of April that the parties had reached a settlement agreement, but needed more time to execute the terms of the agreement before filing the agreed document to end the case. .
Details of the settlement have not been filed with the court.
Bussière said he could not comment. Attorneys for Getman, Schulthess, Steere & Poulin, representing the Sands Resort, did not return calls seeking comment.
Over a dozen lawsuits filed
The lawsuits were filed by people who stayed at the hotel in August 2018 and shortly after their stay, according to their lawsuits, they fell ill and were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. They said that during their stay they spent time at or near the Sands Hotel spa and used the resort’s water.
The disease, a rare form of pneumonia, is contracted by breathing in airborne water particles containing Legionella.
Health officials, working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identified the Sands as the likely source of the outbreak after testing the water there and other parts of the beach. A state Department of Health and Human Services report released in 2019 states that the “improper maintenance” of the Sands Resort’s hot tub as well as other conditions within the facility, such as low hot water temperatures, may have promoted the growth of Legionella bacteria.
The same report noted that there were 49 confirmed, probable or suspected cases and two deaths linked to the Hampton Beach outbreak attributed to the Sands Resort.
One of the lawsuits filed concerned the estate of Albert Vaughndied aged 48 of Legionnaire’s disease, less than a month after staying at the Sands Resort.
The station, according to court documents, denied all liability claims, including that it had a duty to inspect for the potential presence of Legionella bacteria or warn of unknown conditions. They also disputed the nature, extent and cause of the damages suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of the alleged incidents.
Ongoing litigation since 2018
The majority of prosecutions have been ongoing since 2018. Four additional prosecutions have been filed in 2021.
The original cases named Aqua Paradise Pools & Spas, a pool and hot tub company, as one of the defendants.
However, a judge ruled on February 15, 2021 that the company is not liable for the damages and the case against them was dismissed.
While the company performs repairs on equipment for commercial customers and has done so at the Sands Resort on eight occasions, the judge noted that the company does not regularly monitor or maintain commercial pools or hot tubs .
The judge also noted that the company, although not obligated to do so, had already made several safety recommendations to Sands Resort staff.
Other litigation involving the Sands Resort was also filed in 2022 against Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, which insured Sands Resort Management Co.
The four lawsuits, which have all since been settled, alleged that they wrongly denied coverage under its “fungi or bacteria exclusion”.