Seattle Children's Hospital handed more lawsuits over ongoing mold issues

SEATTLE - Seattle Children's Hospital faces a pair of new lawsuits over its deadly mold outbreak.

The first is a class-action lawsuit representing the families of three patients who died after exposure to Aspergillus mold.

“This class action lawsuit is brought on behalf of the child patients of Defendant who became infected by Aspergillus mold after they were hospitalized between 2001 and the present time," the class-action lawsuit states.

Karen Koehler and Brad Moore of Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore law firm said they studied Aspergillus cases and also asked attorney John Layman of Layman Law Firm to join them in the class-action lawsuit.

In the 25-page complaint, the attorneys claim the hospital knew about Aspergillus mold problems for years. They said the hospital failed to take steps to remedy the problem and instead tried to cover it up.

“This action is really targeted against the management, the building and engineer department of Seattle Children’s about a systemic cover-up that’s existed now for almost 19 years,” said Koehler.

In a previous news conference on November 18, hospital CEO Jeff Sperring said 14 patients developed Aspergillus infections at the hospital and six children died from the infection.

“This is simply devastating for them and for us. You are extraordinary kids, courageous families. We let you down and I am sorry,” said Sperring.

Of the six children who died of Aspergillus, one of them was Logan Shaffer, an infant whose estate is represented in the class action lawsuit. Court documents say Logan was exposed to Aspergillus in 2005 while he was at the hospital for heart surgery.

He died of a heart aneurysm caused by the fungus, according to the lawsuit.

The hospital has closed 10 operating rooms and two storage rooms until the end of August to install new air handling systems and in-room heap filtration.

“The temporary closure of most of our operating rooms will allow us to accelerate our improvements in the most efficient way,” said Sperring.

Layman said he believes the mold exposure goes beyond the operating rooms and that many more people were sickened.

“You have numerous children coming there without Aspergillus, and then after two weeks to a month they develop the Aspergillus. And that’s when we know they have a faulty HVAC system,” said Layman.

Layman said he told the hospital about its contaminated HVAC system back in 2005 when he and one family filed a lawsuit against Children’s for Aspergillus.

“Through the process, we discovered that there were problems with the HVAC systems throughout the entire hospital, not just the operating rooms. And you have a significant number of immune-compromised patients that are developing Aspergillus infections pulmonary or otherwise,” said Layman.

Q13 News contacted Seattle Children’s Hospital for comment about the lawsuit and accusations of managers knowing about mold issues for years but did not immediately get a response.