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Couple sue McHenry hotel

McHENRY – A Michigan couple is suing the McHenry Hampton Inn after the husband contracted a bacterial disease after using the hot tub in May 2008.

Albert and Judith Kooi of Allegan County, Mich., are alleging that Hampton Inn employees failed to maintain the spa in a way that prevented the growth of Legionella, a bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. The couple are suing the McHenry Hampton Inn and its parent company, Hilton Hotels Corp., for an unnamed amount of damages.

The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Rockford, alleges that Albert Kooi incurred medical bills for treatment and suffered pain and mental anguish.

Four people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease in 2008, McHenry County Health Department spokeswoman Debra Quackenbush said.

State health officials took water samples from the spa that tested positive for the bacteria in May 2008. Hotel officials had the spa drained and cleaned, and state health officials conducted follow-up water tests.

At the time, staff members said they were cooperating with state health officials. McHenry Hampton Inn General Manager Tine Valdilles did not return a call for comment Monday.

Federal judge Frederick Kapala found that the lawsuit did not properly establish that his court had jurisdiction over the allegations, so he gave the Koois and their attorneys until Feb. 1 to file an amended complaint.

People can contract Legionella bacteria after breathing contaminated mist or vapor. The disease is not transmitted person to person.

Symptoms are similar to pneumonia and typically begin two to 14 days after exposure. Legionnaires’ disease can cause death in 5 percent to 30 percent of cases, but most cases can be treated with antibiotics, according to the McHenry County Health Department.

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