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Bronx Security Guard Sues Opera House Hotel Over Legionnaires' Outbreak

By  Eddie Small and Murray Weiss | August 25, 2015 5:30pm 

 A Bronx man is suing the Opera House Hotel after he became infected with Legionnaires' disease during the outbreak.
A Bronx man is suing the Opera House Hotel after he became infected with Legionnaires' disease during the outbreak.
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DNAinfo/Antoaneta Roussi

MOTT HAVEN — A Bronx man who lives less than half a mile from the Opera House Hotel is suing the establishment after he inhaled Legionella bacteria from its infected cooling tower this summer, according to a lawsuit.

Leslie Noble, a 54-year-old security guard who lives near 153rd Street and Melrose Avenue, filed a suit on Friday against the Opera House Hotel after becoming sick with the disease this summer and spending a week in the hospital, according to his lawyer Ronald Katter.

The Opera House Hotel was one of the five initial sites that the Health Department identified as being infected with the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease, and officials named it as the source of the outbreak on Aug 20.

The epidemic began on July 10, and city officials announced last week that it was officially over.

The suit, filed in Bronx Supreme Court on Aug. 21, claims that Noble inhaled Legionella from the hotel from July 1 through July 14, causing him to suffer "great physical pain and mental anguish."

Noble is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, according to the lawsuit.

The outbreak was the worst for the disease in New York City's history, killing 12 people and infecting more than 120, health officials said.

Katter said he is representing other clients who plan to sue the Opera House Hotel as well.

Opera House Hotel spokesman Michael McKeon maintained that the establishment's cooling tower was just two years old and that the establishment's maintenance plan was consistent with regulations that the city is just now putting into place.

The hotel cooperated fully with the city and state to resolve its infection, and it is now clean, McKeon continued.

"We expect that some lawyers will attempt to cash in on this unfortunate event," he said in a statement, "but we have lawyers to handle these matters too.”