Kentucky woman died from Legionnaires' disease contracted at Guest House at Graceland hotel
Tom Charlier | The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn. | September 13, 2017 3:49pm
Sept. 12--A Kentucky woman who was among nine people sickened by Legionnaires' disease after staying at a Graceland-area hotel later died as a result of the ailment, an autopsy report confirmed.
Linda Gail Godsey, 62, a resident of Breathitt County, died on June 21, just days after she and three family members returned from a visit to the Guest House at Graceland located just north of Elvis Presley's famed home.
An autopsy report completed late last month and filed with the Kentucky State Medical Examiner's Office lists "Legionella pneumonia (Legionnaires' disease)" as the immediate cause of death, although earlier medical problems suffered by Godsey were "contributory."
Godsey's family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Guest House, Elvis Presley Enterprises, owner of the hotel, and Pyramid Tennessee Management.
Shelby County Health Department spokeswoman Angela Moore said Tuesday that privacy regulations prevented her from confirming Godsey's death or any details about her illness.
The $92 million, 450-room Guest House at 3600 Elvis Presley Boulevard, immediately north of the late singer's famed home, opened last October.
Department officials announced the outbreak in June and said it appeared to be linked to the hot tub and pool at the hotel, which opened last October.
Legionnaires' is spread when people breathe in water droplets or mist containing the legionella bacteria. In most cases, the infection doesn't cause a serious illness, but it can trigger pneumonia-like symptoms, including coughing, shortness of breath, aches and nausea.
Legionnaires' outbreaks often occur when pools, hot tubs or air-conditioning systems are not properly maintained or disinfected, officials say.
The nine people sickened all stayed at the Guest House between May 15 and June 26, according to the department.
Health officials temporarily closed the aquatic facilities at the Guest House but later reopened them after tests showed that cleanup efforts had eradicated the bacteria.
Joe Savage, a Lexington, Kentucky attorney representing Godsey's family, said the victim, along with two daughters and her sister, were Elvis fans who looked forward to the vacation.
"They all wanted to go to Memphis and do all the Elvis things," Savage said.
During their June 10-13 visit, the women spent time in the hot tub, Savage said.
According to the lawsuit, all four women became sick after returning home to Kentucky.
"In my opinion ... there was clear negligence in the failure to properly regulate the hot tub and allowing the very virulent bacteria to grow in the tub," Savage said.
Godsey developed a fever and respiratory problems, with her symptoms progressing to include headaches, nausea and diarrhea, according to the lawsuit. On June 21, she was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where she died later that day.
During her final days, Godsey incurred medical costs while experiencing pain and suffering and a loss of enjoyment of life, the lawsuit says. Her husband and other family members suffered the loss of her companionship, affection and guidance.
The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages.
Efforts to obtain a comment from Elvis Presley Enterprises Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Reach Tom Charlier at email@example.com or 901-529-2572 and on Twitter at @thomasrcharlier.