More than a dozen lawsuits filed against the Sands Resort in Hampton, New Hampshire, for a deadly Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak have been settled.
Concerning the 17 cases filed against the resort, the court docket states: “Judgement for neither party. No costs, interest, or attorney fees awarded. No further action for the same cause.”
The lawsuits centered around a 2018 Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak that sickened dozens and killed two people, including 48-year-old Albert Vaughn, who died less than a month after staying at the Sands Resort. All of the lawsuits stated that during their stay at the resort, the plaintiffs spent time at or near the spa area and used the water from the resort.
Health officials with the Centers for Disease Control identified the Sands Resort as the likely source of the outbreak.
A state Department of Health and Human Services report released in 2019 noted that there were 49 confirmed, probable, or suspected cases and two deaths traced to the Sands Resort spa.
The same report states the 'inadequate maintenance' of the Sands Resort’s spa as well as other conditions within the facility, such as low hot water temperatures, may have fostered the growth of Legionella bacteria.
The initial lawsuits included Aqua Paradise Pools & Spas, a pool and hot tub company, as one of the defendants.
However, in February 2021, a judge ruled that the company was not liable for any damages, and the case against them was dismissed.
Although the company did repairs on equipment at the Sands Resort on eight occasions, the judge noted that the company does not monitor or regularly maintain commercial pools or hot tubs.
Furthermore, even though Aqua Paradise was not obligated to do so, the judge noted that the company had made several safety recommendations to the staff at the Sands Resort.
According to court documents, the resort has denied all claims of liability, including that it had a duty to inspect for the possible presence of Legionella, or that it had an obligation to warn guests of unknown conditions. The resort has also disputed the cause of the damages to the plaintiffs.
In March, attorney Emile R. Bussiere Jr., of Bussiere & Bussiere, who represented the majority of the alleged victims, told the court that the two sides were “actively discussing the potential that all cases involved would be determined in private binding arbitration.'
Details of the settlement were not filed in the court.