Legionnaires' disease forces guests from luxury hotel in Miami

Miami

Hotel guests move After Legionnaires' found

About 300 guests have been relocated from a luxury Miami hotel after one former guest died and at least two others became sick since October from Legionnaires' disease.

Health officials say the guests at the Epic Hotel were sent to nearby hotels Saturday to prevent potential contact with the waterborne bacterial disease.

An ongoing investigation revealed that the hotel had installed a water filter powerful enough to remove chlorine from its city-supplied water, which encouraged bacterial growth.

Miami-Dade County health officials said Monday that one former guest died at the end of October after leaving for a cruise. Another was diagnosed around mid November, and the third at the end of the month. No details about the patients were released for privacy reasons.

West Palm Beach

Witness sentenced in rape

A teen who pleaded guilty and testified against co-defendants in the brutal gang rape of a woman and beating of her young son was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison.

Avion Lawson, 17, had faced up to 11 life sentences, plus 50 years.

Three others in the case — Jakaris Taylor, 17, Nathan Walker, 18, and Tommy Poindexter, 20 — were sentenced in October to life in prison. Lawson pleaded guilty in August and testified against them in the 2007 attack.

Authorities say the four defendants, who were all teenagers at the time of the attack, barged into a then-35-year-old woman's apartment in a West Palm Beach public housing complex and raped her repeatedly, then beat her then-12-year-old son and forced her to perform oral sex on him. Police say they then doused the two in chemicals to clean the crime scene and fled.

"First of all, I want to say that I'm very sorry," Lawson said quietly before sentencing.

Miami

Judge rules on drowning

A federal judge has upheld a $5.75 million settlement in the case of two people who drowned 12 years ago off Miami Beach.

The decision announced Monday caps a lengthy legal fight that resulted in a Florida Supreme Court ruling in 2005. That decision made clear that cities as well as private landowners must warn beachgoers about dangerous conditions.

The city of Miami Beach negotiated the settlement with the estates of the drowning victims, but the city's insurance company refused to pay the settlement. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold means the company will have to pay, but it could still appeal.

Times wires

Legionnaires' disease forces guests from luxury hotel in Miami 12/14/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 14, 2009 11:12pm]

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