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Families Set to Sue Over Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in Scotland

Families Set to Sue Over Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in Scotland

As NHS Lothian published its final report into the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh three years ago, more than 40 families who were affected have announced their intention to sue the two companies believed to be responsible. There were 92 cases of Legionnella detected in the summer of 2012, with four people dying of the infection.

Worst outbreak of Legionnella in 10 years

More than 40 families have commenced civil action against pharmaceutical firm MacFarlan Smith and North British Distillery, following the fatal outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh in the summer of 2012. As the worst outbreak of Legionnella in 10 years, four people died following the incident, with a total of 92 cases of the infection detected.

The source of the infection is believed to have been cooling towers, with nine sites tested to the west and centre of Edinburgh. At the very heart of the outbreak around Wheatefield Road in the city, MacFarlan Smith pharmaceuticals was visited nine times and a total of 49 samples were taken. Next door at the North British Distillery, which was visited by scientists four times, 15 samples were taken.

In April, the Health and Safety Executive said it had been unable to conclusively determine who was responsible for the outbreak. The Crown Office concluded that there was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal prosecution. However, some of the affected families have commenced civil action for the harm suffered.

Understanding Legionnaires’ disease

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacterium. Individuals become infected when they inhale aerosols from a contaminated source. Incubation may take up to two weeks, with the early symptoms flu-like, including a fever, chills and a dry cough. Many sufferers don’t know they have been infected for some time. The more advanced stages of the disease see problems with the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system, and lead to diarrhea and nausea. Other advanced symptoms of pneumonia may also be present.

Although not generally a threat to individuals in good health, for those who have a compromised immune system or who are elderly, it can be fatal.

Helen Booth, who fell ill as part of the outbreak in 2012, explained her motivation for commencing legal action. She contracted Legionnaires at work in the Gorgie area, and became increasingly unwell over a weekend in June. She stated:

“Somebody has to be held accountable for it. There is blame somewhere and I think it has been swept under the carpet.

It is not a monetary thing, it’s to find out why this happened and will it happen again to someone else. It shouldn’t be allowed, someone should be held responsible. We need answers, we need someone to stand up and say, look this was our neglect, this was our fault, someone is to blame.”

For further information about making a claim for compensation

For information relating to making a possible claim, contact one of our specialist personal injury solicitors. We are based in West London but cover all surrounding areas. To enquire about making a compensation claim please contact a member of our team on 01895 207230 or 01895 207295. Alternatively, you can send an email to pi@ibblaw.co.uk or complete our online form.