Three months after Legionnaires' disease was discovered at the 450-room Guest House at Graceland, a hotel near Elvis Presley's fabled home in Memphis, Tenn., a lawsuit has been filed against the resort after one of the afflicted guests died from the outbreak.
The wrongful-death lawsuit was filed on Sept 7 in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Tenn., 30th Judicial District at Memphis, on behalf of the family of Linda Godsey, a 62-year-old Kentucky resident who contracted Legionnaires' after staying at the hotel, plus three other women who fell ill but survived. The suit claims the hotel's water systems, which include its pool and hot tub, were not properly maintained, giving rise to the water-borne disease; Godsey died on June 21. The defendants in the case are Guest House at Graceland and connected businesses; Elvis Presley Enterprises LLC; Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.; and Pyramid Tennessee Management, which manages the resort.
The resort already was facing a lawsuit filed in the same circuit court by another guest identified only as "Mr. J," which claims that Elvis Presley Enterprises knew or should have known that its water systems could become contaminated with Legionella bacteria if not properly maintained. According to the suit, the company "did not implement a water-management plan sufficient to protect the guests it housed at its hotel known as the Guest House at Graceland."
Legionnaires' disease is a bacterial infection caused by breathing contaminated freshwater mist or droplets. It can cause a pneumonia-like condition, with symptoms including coughing, shortness of breath, high fever, headaches and muscle aches. It is generally treated with antibiotics. Shelby County health officials had shut down the swimming pool and hot tub at the Guest House at Graceland on June 17, after determining the facilities might be linked to three cases of Legionnaires'. By July, officials were able to confirm that a total of nine guests had contracted the disease.
At that time, the Guest House at Graceland issued this statement: "Graceland is working closely with Pyramid Hotel Group, who manages the hotel. Our primary concern is the health and welfare of their guests. The issue does not affect the Graceland attraction and tours in any way." To date, the property has not issued a statement regarding the wrongful-death lawsuit.