Lawsuits for Quarantined TB Lawyer?
Posted Jun 1, 2007 2:19 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
An Atlanta personal injury lawyer stricken with an unusually severe case of tuberculosis and quarantined in a Denver hospital could soon be involved in cutting-edge litigation.
Experts say Andrew Speaker, 31, could be either the plaintiff or the defendant in various potential claims. They include a suit by him against the United States government, contending that the highly unusual federal quarantine order imposed on him is unconstitutional, and tort cases filed by any fellow airline passenger who may have been infected with TB because of his travel, against medical advice, to and from Europe last month to get married, reports AP.
"He may be personally liable if someone contracts TB," says Peter Jacobson, a law professor at the University of Michigan. "I can see a jury coming down very hard on someone like that who willfully ignored advice not to travel." Such litigation may never be filed, though, because the risk of an asymptomatic patient like Speaker infecting others is low, according to ABC News.
Speaker told an Atlanta newspaper that he didn't find out until he got to Europe that he had been diagnosed with an especially dangerous form of TB, although he had been warned by health officials earlier not to travel. His quarantine order is the first imposed by the federal government since 1963.