CHARLESTON - Ten suits have been filed against a Beckley-area hospital after the plaintiffs all tested positive for tuberculosis because of faulty airflow from the tuberculosis wing of the hospital.

Attorney Barry L. Bruce filed the suits Sept. 6 in Kanawha Circuit Court, against Pinecrest Hospital and Attorney General Darrell McGraw.

The plaintiffs are Samuel Plumley, Jerome Walker, Amy Helton, Kyle King, Cheryl Farley, Ronald David, Sandy Gregory, Jerry Helton, Danny Sutphin, Cynthia Hairston.

According to the suits, the plaintiffs all visited the hospital at various times between August 2001 and September 2004. In August 2001, Pinecrest installed wall air conditioning units in the tuberculosis isolation rooms and the dining area in the tuberculosis ward.

The suits say the hospital did not consult engineers who designed negative pressure units that were installed in the hospital in 1995. The purpose of the negative pressure units was to create an airflow current from the hall to the hospital room that would prevent air potentially contaminated with tuberculosis from infiltrating other parts of the hospital.

According to the suits, the wall units allowed tuberculosis germs to escape from the rooms into other parts of the hospital, exposing visitors, patients and employees to tuberculosis.

In September 2004, Pinecrest removed the wall units and restored the tuberculosis unit to the appropriate negative air pressure. However, the 10 plaintiffs all tested positive for tuberculosis as a result of the negligence shown by the hospital, the suits say.

Because of the exposure to tuberculosis, the plaintiffs must undergo periodic diagnostic medical examinations.

According to the suits, the plaintiffs have suffered severe emotional distress due to the knowledge that the tuberculosis could become active at any time, causing them to become ill.

The plaintiffs seek compensation for medical expenses and treatments, medical monitoring, prescription expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, interest and costs of the action, plus any other relief the court deems necessary.

Kanawha Circuit Court case numbers: 07-C-1880-1889.

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