Five Lawsuits Filed Against DHEC For Failure to Act Regarding Tuberculosis Outbreak
According to local officials, a total of five lawsuits have been filed against the Department of Health and Environmental control, as well as an Upstate school district, for unnecessarily exposing others to the person who started the Tuberculosis outbreak.
DHEC announced the Tuberculosis outbreak at Ninety-Six Elementary School in Greenwood County on May 28th, reportedly two months after DHEC officials initially came in to test for the disease. School superintendant Mark Peterson told reporters that he begged the agency to give him information about the results of their tests, so he could not act until he knew more about the problem. However, DHEC replied that they had informed Peterson in March, and that teachers and school officials were all being tested specifically for tuberculosis with their consent.
“The school was told in March,” said Catherine Templeton, director of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, in a statement Friday.
“In addition, the school staff was heavily involved in the investigation and was being tested. I’m not sure how the superintendent/acting principal missed it.”
Since May 28th, 603 people in Greenwood County have been tested for TB to help control the tuberculosis outbreak. A skin test for TB can show whether or not the person has TB, but only a chest xray can determine if the disease is active. If a person has the disease but it is inactive, they are not contagious.
So far, 74 people, 55 of whom are children, have tested positive for tuberculosis. However, only two adults and 10 children had abnormal chest xrays.
Because of their age, children are not contagious. However, the two adults are.
Officials currently believe that a former employee of Ninety-Six School is the originator of the tuberculosis outbreak. He was reportedly uncoopertaive when DHEC officials tested school staff, so he was confined to and treated at a state health facility until the disease clears his system. However, he has not been criminally charged, and the matter has not been sent to the Attorney General’s office.
Lawsuits Against DHEC and School District for Negligence in Tuberculosis Outbreak Information
Since news broke about the tuberculosis outbreak, five lawsuits have been filed against DHEC, and some of the lawsuits include School District 52 as a defendant.
“Primarily they had the responsibility to get out ahead of the problem instead of letting the problem to develop and explode like it has,” said an attorney representing one of the class-action cases. The case has 35 plaintiffs so far.
Currently, attorneys involved in the lawsuit are investigating whether school officials at District 52 could have known about the employee’s tuberculosis status as early as July 2012.
In the wake of the lawsuits, DHEC spokesperson Mark Plowden said, “This lawsuit is a distraction from the real work being done around the clock by DHEC medical professionals to protect this community. It does nothing to help the effort, and is a waste of time.”
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Personal Injury Cases Related to the Tuberculosis Outbreak
If you or your child have tested positive with tuberculosis, and believe that you caught the disease because of the Greenwood County tuberculosis outbreak, you do not have to suffer in silence. You may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury case. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations so you can discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today for help. 803.252.4800.