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Strategies for Defending Legionella and Mold Claims

September 30, 2019

Best Practices from National Thought Leaders Keith Smith and Victoria Ersoff

(Las Vegas, NV) Legionella is a bacteria that is naturally found in lakes, streams, and rivers. In nature, the bacteria doesn’t pose much of a threat, but when it takes to man-made water systems such as shower heads, sink faucets, hot tubs, and plumbing systems, it gains the potential to become a major health concern, prompting numerous legal claims in their wake. The causes of such claims usually arise from cooling towers found in motels and hotels, cruise ships, hospitals, and office buildings.

How are these types of claims handled and what can be done to avoid them in the first place will be front and center stage this week at the McGriff Real Estate Edge Conference. National thought leaders and leading experts Victoria Ersoff and Keith Smith, partners at the national law firm Wood Smith Henning & Berman, will be presenting strategies on how to best tackle, resolve and address all facets of issues presented when these issues arose.

Participants in the conference will fully understand strategies for avoiding and handling legionella and other claims in a highly anticipated conference session titled “Emerging Trends in Defending Legionella and Mold Claims: Best Practices for Claims Avoidance & Risk Management,” to be lead by WSHB Partners Victoria Ersoff and Keith Smith, at this year’s McGriff’s Real Estate Edge Conference being held at the Cosmopolitan Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2 – 4, 2019.

“Prudent risk management is key in avoiding the claims in the first instance, and many of these issues go back to construction and maintenance which squarely involve the construction and risk management individuals,” said WSHB trial lawyer Keith Smith. “Even the best laid strategies often given rise to claims involving mold or legionella, which requires an immediate and thoughtful response to minimize future issues.”

Adds trial lawyer Victoria Ersoff, “ASHRAE 188 impacts an operator’s ability to effectively argue that there is no standard of care or duty to prevent growth. The reality is that there must be a water management plan in place or building owners and operators potentially face significant liability”

Throughout the course of her career, Ms. Ersoff has defended over 2,000 Legionnaires’ disease claims nationwide and is a frequent speaker on successfully defending these specialized cases. A partner in WSHB’s Los Angeles office, Ersoff has over two decades of complex litigation experience. She is nationally known for her expertise in defending commercial and business litigation, mold and water damage, mass tort, catastrophic injury, real estate, negligent security and habitability litigation. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, trucking companies, REITS and national property management companies, condo/co-op associations, hospitals, boutique hotels and global hospitality companies, artists, studios, developers /general contractors, and big-box stores.

Keith Smith handles national claims for Legionnaires’ disease and is regularly called upon to address outbreaks and risk prevention for his clients. He’s defended hundreds of claims in multiple states in state and federal court due to alleged exposure to Legionella at a wide variety of properties. Smith regularly speaks on the topic and has been hired by the largest hospitality companies in the nation to address outbreaks and risk management. Mr. Smith is the managing partner of the firm’s Riverside office.

Wood Smith Henning & Berman

WSHB is a full service litigation firm with offices throughout the United States. The firm has tried over 900 cases to verdict, and is internationally recognized for its exceptionally high rate of success. Since the firm’s inception in 1997 by trial lawyers David Wood, Kevin Smith, Stephen Henning and Daniel Berman, WSHB has been known as the national “go to” firm for complex civil litigation in professional liability, employment, commercial, medical malpractice and healthcare, construction, environmental, real estate, transportation, subrogation, toxic tort and intellectual property litigation. Additionally, WSHB also regularly handles first and third party coverage issues for the London market. The firm has been named one of the top four law firms in the nation for female lawyers, and one of the top five for diversity. WSHB’s lawyers take pride in each and every case and all ultimate results. Most of all, WSHB is proud of their organic growth which translates into consistent results and handling office to office.

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