A New York jury found a filter manufacturer liable for a
1994 Legionnaires? cruise ship outbreak that killed
one and sickened several.
The company, Pentair Inc., was hit with a landmark $193
million judgment. The outbreak was linked to defective
The Golden Valley, Minn.-based manufacturer, must pay
Celebrity Cruise Lines Inc. for out-of-pocket losses, lost
profits and loss of business enterprise value related to
?We feel vindicated by this verdict,?
said Dan Hanrahan, president of Celebrity Cruises.
In a press release, Pentair Chairman/CEO Randall J.
Hogan responded to the judgment with this statement:
?We will pursue all available means to achieve
reversal of this jury verdict.?
The outbreak affected passengers on nine separate
Celebrity cruises between New York and Bermuda. One person
died, six were confirmed with Legionnaire?s disease
and 30 others displayed symptoms of pneumonia. Passenger
claims were settled for more than $9 million, according to
An investigation blamed the outbreak on two defective
swimming pool filters manufactured by Essef Corp., a firm
acquired by Pentair in 1999. Trial evidence suggested the
sand filters did not backwash properly, letting organic
matter to grow where Legionella bacteria could proliferate.
One Essef employee testified the filters were not suitable
According to court documents, Essef said the crew failed
to use chemical disinfectants properly. The firm also
argued the filters were altered post-sale and thus rendered
Legionnaires? disease primarily strikes people
over 50, causing fever, chills, cough, headache, diarrhea
and kidney malfunction. Though treatable with antibiotics,
the illness? death rate can reach 15 percent among
those ill enough to be hospitalized.