330 victims of Portugal’s worst ever Legionella outbreak sue State for €2.6 million

The association for the support of victims of Portugal’s devastating Legionella outbreak five years ago has advanced with a popular action against the State, demanding a total of 2.6 million euros for the 330 people who have seen their cases ‘archived’.

This is the latest in the saga that saw 13 people die in what was has been recorded as the one of the world’s largest Legionella outbreaks.

Two firms are facing criminal prosecutions that only this week begin the so-called instruction phase (the point where judges review evidence to decide whether there is a case to answer).

Opening at Loures tribunal, the moment will be marked by a protest in support of all the victims ‘shut out’ from the chance of receiving compensation.

This has happened because – according to the Public Ministry – these victims did not show the strain of Legionella found in the cooling towers of factory ADP – Fertilizantes, monitored by chemical engineers employed by General Electric (now renamed Suez ii).

But the victims argue that the way samples were taken – indeed the way the whole investigation was handled – “compromised the principle of equity”.

Nine public entities that made up the ‘task force’ formed to combat the outbreak are in the victims’ sights, though the man leading them – Joaquim Ramos – is fatalistic.

He “doesn’t believe in justice”, he tells reporters, but “no-one is going to shut (his) mouth” while he can use it and he “will fight to the end”.

Victims’ central beef is that the companies behind the contamination of communities around Vila Franca da Xira have tried ‘buying’ victims’ silence.

Of the 73 identified with the same strain of Legionella discovered in the cooling towers, 36 have reached financial agreements that range from €3000 to €8050.

It is this last figure that the victims’ association is claiming from the State – for all 330 people who struggled with a killer bacteria and whose lives will never be the same – but for whom compensation is being denied, on evidence they believe is faulty.

The Legionella outbreak began in the early days of November, 2014 and eventually saw 403 people infected, 13 of whom lost their lives, some after months of battling (click here).

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