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Taylor v. Aria Resort & Casino, LLC

United States District Court, D. Nevada

February 23, 2015

RONALD TAYLOR, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ARIA RESORT & CASINO, LLC, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT ARIA'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO PUNITIVE DAMAGES

ANDREW P. GORDON, District Judge.

Plaintiffs allege that while staying at Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas in 2011, they acquired Legionellosis, a form of pneumonia sometimes transmitted through the water management systems of buildings. They seek, among other things, punitive damages, alleging that Aria demonstrated "wanton disregard" of and "deliberate indifference" to the hotel guests.[1] Aria moves for summary judgment on those punitive damages. Finding that no genuine issue of material fact exists, and because Aria is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, I grant Aria's Motion.

BACKGROUND

Factual History

In May of 2010, Aria obtained a water management plan from a third-party consultant.[2] The plan was designed to prevent the growth of Legionella, a bacteria that can lead to a form of pneumonia called "Legionnaire's Disease."[3] Four months later, the consultant revised the plan to include periodic testing for Legionella. [4] Testing began before any of the plaintiffs arrived at the hotel.[5]

In June of 2010, the Southern Nevada Health District ("SNHD") performed an environmental assessment of Aria, after which lead investigator Mark Bergtholdt sent a report to the Center for Disease Control ("CDC") summarizing his findings. Responding to Bergtholdt's report, Laurel Garrison of the CDC wrote the following in an email to him:

Thank you for sharing the results of your investigation. It looks like you've done a very thorough assessment and have not found anything out of order or any red flags. I will file this information in case we receive any additional reports associated with a stay at this hotel.[6]

The exposure period for plaintiffs occurred almost a year later, between April and July of 2011.[7] Before that neither of the two Aria facilities managers, William Ham and Paul Carballosa, were aware of any hotel guests contracting an illness from Legionella. [8]

In June of 2011, a month that falls within the period when plaintiffs stayed at Aria, the SNHD found Legionella in the hotel's water system. Aria then began a remediation program to improve its control of the bacteria. This program included (1) installing a state of the art chlorination system that required Aria to obtain a permit as a public water purveyor, (2) replacing fixtures, and (3) developing a more comprehensive water management plan. Aria also sent out notices to 18, 000 guests who stayed at the hotel during the period when Legionella was discovered.[9]

Procedural History

On August 23, 2011, plaintiffs filed their initial complaint, alleging that they acquired Legionnaires' Disease at Aria and, as a result, "became seriously ill, incurred significant medical bills, endured pain and suffering, and loss [sic] of life's pleasures."[10] Various spouses of plaintiffs also alleged loss of consortium.[11] Plaintiffs assert theories of negligence, breach of contract, and loss of consortium. They seek both compensatory damages and punitive damages.

In response to plaintiffs' initial complaint, Aria filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Punitive Damage Claim, [12] which this Court granted without prejudice.[13] According to Judge Dawson, who was presiding over the case at the time, "the complaint [did] not demonstrate Aria acted with a conscious disregard of the rights and safety of the Plaintiffs."[14] Plaintiffs then filed a Motion for Leave to Amend.[15] I granted the motion;[16] Plaintiffs amended their complaint;[17] discovery closed; and Aria again moves for summary judgment on the punitive damages claim.[18]

DISCUSSION

Legal Standard: Summary ...


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