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Suit blames hotel for man's Legionnaires' disease death

Published: Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 9:44 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — A wrongful-death lawsuit was filed Thursday against Marriott International, claiming that a downtown Chicago hotel is responsible for infecting an Irish tourist with Legionnaires’ disease.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, says Thomas Joseph Keane, 66, was dining at the JW Marriott hotel, 151 W. Adams St., on July 27 when he somehow inhaled “dangerous aerosolized water vapor contaminated with Legionella bacteria.”

The bacteria was found in a decorative fountain of the main lobby that has since been removed after it also infected other visitors.

Keane, who was visiting Chicago with his wife on their 40th anniversary, was later diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease and died on Aug. 29, according to the lawsuit.

The suit was filed by Lorraine O’Donnell, a special administrator of Keane, though it is unclear if the two are related.

The lawsuit charges that the hotel failed to create and implement “appropriate control measures” to ensure the fountain was bacteria-free, and didn’t maintain appropriate water temperatures and biocide levels in the fountain.

Also named in the lawsuit is the Prime Group Inc., which owned or operated the JW Marriott, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also contends the hotel should have known and warned patrons of the contaminated fountain between July 27 and Aug. 3.

Keane suffered “great conscious pain” before he died and incurred various medical expenses, according to the lawsuit.

Representatives of the Marriott and O’Donnell could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Test results also showed that the hotel’s pool, the spa's whirlpool and both the men's and women's locker rooms contained “the same species of Legionella,” according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

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