Austrian Supreme Court: hotelier liable for legionella disease

In April 2003, the plaintiff stayed at the defendant’s hotel. When using the shower she caught a legionella infection which led into a pneumonia. The reason for the contamination of the bathing water was an insufficient circulation speed which made the water cool down to a temperature that stimulated the reprduction of legionella bacteria. Up to (at least) March 2003, the hotelier had engaged a plumber to take care of the maintenance of the water pipe system.The Austrian Supreme Court (OGH) held that the accomation contract included a duty of the hotelier to provide safety to the guests. Either the hotelier had failed to ask the plumber to thoroughly check the water pipes for potential hazards or the plumber despite having been asked had failed to do so. In each case the hotelier was liable for the disease: either because of his own failure to perform the contract or because of the failure of the plumber who had to be regarded the hotelier’s agent in the perfomance of contractual obligations.Full text of judgement 8 Ob 106/12i of Aug. 29, 2013 availbale in German here>>.

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