Florida - Legionella Prevention and Costs of Legionnaires Outbreaks

Historical Headlines Related to Legionella

August 24, 2023

A federal appeals court ruled that a cooling tower must be considered equipment, not a structure. It concluded there is insurance coverage in a negligence case filed by a worker who developed Legionnaires’ disease after working on a cooling tower. Tgeruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in Southern-Owners Insurance Co. v. Waterhouse Corp., Nursery Supplies Inc., Darrell Patterson, in a case that hinged on how a cooling tower should be classified, affirmed a lower court decision. Mr. Patterson, a plumber and electrician, worked in and around a cooling tower on the property after being hired to do maintenance and water treatment services for the tower. About two weeks later, he was admitted to a hospital and diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease, with water samples from the tower confirming the legionella bacteria’s presence. Mr. Patterson sued Nursey Supplies and Waterhouse for negligence. (Source)

June 16, 2023

Norwegian Cruise Lines acknowledged an exposure to legionella on at least four of its cruises on the Norwegian Prima earlier this year. (Source)

March 8, 2023

The family of a 75-year-old woman decided to travel from the UK to Florida in May 2022 to rest. They did not imagine that the vacation would be interrupted after the matriarch took a simple bath in a hot tub. The 75-year-old woman contracted Legionnaires’ disease, a severe pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella pneumophila, through contaminated water. The infection mainly affects the elderly and causes flu-like symptoms. Just a few days after the start of the stay, the elderly woman started coughing, had difficulty breathing and bruises all over her body. Still in Florida, she was taken to the hospital and doctors diagnosed Legionnaires’ disease. (Source)

March 1, 2023

In February, Norwegian Cruise Line sent a letter to guests who were booked later in the month for a cruise aboard Norwegian Prima. The letter was to inform them that two guests who sailed on the ship late last year were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after their travels. Although the guests’ diagnosis was likely not associated with their time aboard the ship, the cruise line has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support their investigation efforts. Cruise ships must follow strict guidelines to prevent the growth and spread of Legionella bacteria and the CDC requires all vessels that sail to US ports to have a comprehensive water management program. This program must adhere to strict United States Public Health (USPH) guidelines, and all cruise ships must comply with these regulations. (Source)


The Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, a Bureau of Prisons facility near Wildwood, Florida, suffered an outbreak of more than 23 cases in February 2020.


In October of 2019, the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida reported multiple Legionella cases. Sixteen cases of Legionnaires' disease have been reported in Duval County, Florida in 2019.


In the summer of 2017, an Orange County Florida LA Fitness club had multiple members test positive for Legionnaires’ disease. Florida Hospital Orlando’s water system is undergoing remediation after testing positive for Legionella bacteria in January 2016.


The IslandWalk at the West Villages community was asked to shut down their pool and spa in February 2018 after at least 11 people were taken to area hospitals for treatment of Legionnaire’s disease.

Reported Settlements and Jury Awards

Reported settlements and jury awards have ranged from $275,000 to $5.2 million.

State Cap on Jury Awards

If punitive damages exceed $500,000, the jury is instructed to award the higher amount. In that regard, the cap isn't a strict limit, but an attempt to prevent juries from setting punitive damages significantly higher than compensatory ones. Florida is also very strict about when people can even seek punitive damages.

Groundwater Temperature Risk Level – High
Florida 67-77F

Overall Liabliity and Risk for Florida – High

Yes, ASHRAE 188 is part of the state code

Legionella and Water Management Plan Assistance

Need help? For Legionella consulting and services, Water Management Plans, Legionella Control Systems, and Legionella testing please contact us at Legionella Control Systems at 888-416-8626 or info@legionellacontrolsystems.com

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