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Lawsuit Says Hot Tub Companies, Poorly Maintained Water System To Blame For Legionnaires' Outbreak

Legionella bacteria
Janice Haney Carr
Legionella bacteria in a magnified form.

A new lawsuit alleges that hot tub displays and a poorly maintained water system were the source of a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Mountain State Fair last month. 

Four people have died and 141 people have contracted Legionnaires disease or Pontiac Fever (a milder form of the illness) -- including five in Mecklenburg County -- since the fair took place Sept. 6-15, according to state health officials.

Fred Pritzker, whose Minneapolis law firm Pritzker Hageman is representing 15 families affected so far, said both contaminated water at Davis Event Center and hot tubs are likely to blame.

"I strongly suspect that it had to do with the fact that water circulation at the Davis Center was not constant during a warm month, which allowed the Legionella bacteria to grow and proliferate," Pritzker said. "And then, when there was aerosolization of the water vapor through the hot tubs, people were exposed."

The lawsuit was filed against defendants All Pro Billiards and Spa in Asheville and Soft Fun LLC (doing business as SCM Relaxation) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has linked the Legionnaires' outbreak to a hot tub display at Davis Event Center. 

"It's a combination of many people's fault, and this is something we see time and time again," Pritzker said.

Pritzker added compensation in the lawsuit could be in seven figures.

Jodie Valade has been a Digital News and Engagement Editor for WFAE since 2019. Since moving to Charlotte in 2015, she has worked as a digital content producer for NASCAR.com and a freelance writer for publications ranging from Charlotte magazine to The Athletic to The Washington Post and New York Times. Before that, Jodie was an award-winning sports features and enterprise reporter at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. She also worked at The Dallas Morning News covering the Dallas Mavericks — where she became Mark Cuban's lifelong email pen pal — and at The Kansas City Star. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Education from John Carroll University. She is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan.