Outer Temple duo halt Legionnaire’s litigation

Two Outer Temple Chambers silks have helped to get a corporate man-slaughter case relating to a rare outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease dropped.

Christopher Wilson-Smith QC and Robert Rhodes QC acted for the defendants in the case against the Copthorne Hotel in Cardiff and the installers of a humidifying unit, which was the source of the outbreak.

The case is believed to be only the second in the world where the outbreak of Legionnaire’s was caused by a humidifier – a more usual cause is air-conditioning. The earlier outbreak took place in Louisiana in 1959.

The disease broke out between December 1999 and February 2000 after the humidifier was installed in the hotel’s buffet unit. Two people died and others contracted the disease but survived.

Early in the Cardiff trial at the start of May, cross-examination showed that the installers had no idea of the threat posed by the unit, having been given no information by its manufacturers. As a result the prosecution dropped the corporate manslaughter charges.

Wilson-Smith was instructed by Stephen Bird of Birds Solicitors in Wandsworth, while Rhodes was instructed by Berrymans Lace Mawer.

Stephen Linehan QC of Birmingham set 3 Fountain Court led the case for the Crown Prosecution Service.