Steps to preventing Legionnaires also reduce liability risks
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 8,000 to 18,000 Americans are hospitalized each year after contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Legionnaires’ is a bacterium that thrives in water that is stagnant, unsterilized and warm. An individual can only contract the disease by breathing in vapors that carry the bacteria. It cannot be transmitted from person to person. Health club owners can decrease the risk of infecting their patrons by conducting regular water system maintenance.
A Memphis 24 Hour Fitness is currently embroiled in a $2 million lawsuit filed by Jerome Walsh after he contracted Legionnaires’ disease at the facility. He is one of three people hospitalized between May 21 and June 21, 2103.
The 24 Hour Fitness USA facility was regularly cleaned and maintained to industry standards, according to spokeswoman Robin Rootenberg. She also stated that the chemicals used for cleaning are industrial grade. A third party has been brought in to conduct testing on the infected area, which currently remains closed. The company is engaged in environmental remediation with a firm approved by the health department.
Health Club and Fitness Club Insurance
Proper insurance is critical to protecting your health and fitness club in the event of devastating claims, which can involve multiple individuals alleging extreme damages. However, many General Liability policies for health clubs include two exclusions which most eliminate coverage.
Pollution Exclusion: All General Liability policies include the standard Pollution Exclusion. A pollutant is defined as an irritant or contaminate in any form (solid, liquid, or gaseous). So far most courts are reluctant to deny coverage for Legionnaires’ lawsuits when carriers invoke this exclusion as they don’t consider the bacterium to be a pollutant.
Fungi or Bacteria Exclusion: Many General Liability policies include an endorsement that excludes fungi or bacteria that are present within a building or structure with the exception of those that are contained in a product intended for bodily consumption. Since Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterium, this exclusion could be invoked by the insurance carrier to deny coverage. However, some courts have upheld coverage depending on the exact location in the facility where the disease was contracted.
Ensure that your health club stays protected by adhering to all environmental and industry guidelines for the cleaning and maintenance of for your water systems, including Jacuzzis, saunas, and pools.
Visit our Health Club General Liability Insurance page to get a quick quote. We don’t require you to join an association to qualify for this coverage.