Family of man who died after 2016 Legionnaires’ cluster sues hospital

Richard Jepson's Marine headshot

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – The family of a man who died from Legionnaires’ Disease is now suing Eastern Niagara Hospital. The lawyer representing the son of Richard Jepson says the bacteria that causes the illness was on hospital grounds.

In 2006, more than a dozen people began suffering from Legionnaires’ Disease, all of them living in the Town of City of Lockport, not far from the hospital.

Jepson was 68-years-old when he died. Harry Forrest, the attorney representing his son, says the pneumonia Jepson contracted was caused by Legionnaires’ Disease. He pointed out Jepson lived practically next door to the hospital. You could see a cooling tower from his driveway.

At the time, investigators said a tower tested positive for legionella. Forrest says as far as he knows, this is the first legal action brought against the hospital by anyone who contracted Legionnaires’ Disease two years ago.

“You have a duty to maintain, a duty to inspect, a duty to warn others if there are problems with the property,” Forrest said. “That relates to a case of legionella outbreak. A property owner, including a hospital, has a duty to maintain and clean these cooling towers on a regular basis.”

Forrest said the New York State Department of Health is still investigating the cluster of Legionnaires’ cases.

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