September 21, 2017 03:20 PM
The first lawsuit has been filed related to the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Hopkins.
State health officials found the source in the cooling towers at beverage manufacturer, Citrus Systems, Inc.
Citrus Systems released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
We are aware of the litigation and are reviewing it. We have the utmost respect for the legal process and therefore will not be making public comment on the matter at this time. We have been working in full cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Health and have a robust water management plan on place. We look forward to telling our story throughout the legal process in the appropriate venue.
Twenty-three people were sickened and one person died.
Last month we talked with the family of Joe Butler, a 29-year-old, who contracted the severe form of pneumonia.
He is now out of the hospital, but has a long road ahead of him.
Butler just returned to work at his dad's auto body shop in Hopkins last week.
Diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease in early September, he says he was in the hospital for 17 days, in a coma for 10, and in intensive care.
"They said I almost died, I was right on the doorstep, they said my highest temp was 104.8," Butler said.
For a guy who rarely ever gets sick, this past month has been a nightmare.
Butler lost weight during his battle with the disease.
"Thirty pounds, I was 170-175 and now I am down to 145-150 pounds," Butler said.
He says the fatigue and weakness in his body still lingers, which is why he's only working a few hours a day.
"I have no stamina, if I walk I have to sit down after 20 minutes. If I am at work just standing wrenching on cars, I can maybe stand for two hours and then I am done, my knees start to hurt my hips too," Butler said.
Asked about the legionnaires lawsuit filed, Butler says it's nice to know people are pushing for change and attempting to help recover money in the wake of mounting medical expenses.
"I got the emergency bill right away for $2,500, but I have not seen the ICU or the rest of the stay in the hospital. I hear the ICU bill is upwards of close to half a million," Butler said.
Butler has had to move back in with his dad and says he has been working to regain all the muscle he lost while he was so sick.