Nine people have filed a $1.3 million lawsuit against Andrew Speaker, who may have infected them with tuberculosis when he took a commercial flight from Prague to Montreal.
Of those who are suing Speaker, eight people were passengers on the flight and the ninth is a brother and roommate to one of the passengers.
Andrew Speaker, an Atlanta personal injury attorney, caused an international health crisis, when he disregarded doctors’ advice and left the country to attend his Greece wedding. When in Europe he learned that he had an extremely drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis called XDR-TB, which could have exposed hundreds of passengers to the disease.
Health officials now say Speaker’s strain of TB is not the extremely drug resistant kind but a more treatable, multi-drug-resistant form of the disease.
Anlac Nguyen, lawyer to the plaintiffs, states that his clients may not have TB now, but years from now they may contract the disease. He says, “…so the pain and suffering that the people have gone through are real. They continue to suffer now because of the uncertainty.”
One plaintiff, Nassim Tabri, sat one row in front of Speaker on the plane ride. He is seeking $134,900, which is the highest amount sought by all the plaintiffs.
Another plaintiff who is 72 years old, tested positive for TB in a skin test, further testing is now required. This man has to reside in different room from his wife in case he is infected.
Speaker states that he has not hired an attorney yet, and as of now he is just concerned with his treatment and returning home. He hopes that no one has become infected with TB.
Public Health Agency of Canada spokesman Alain Desroches said “at this point there is no evidence that any one on the flight contracted TB from Andrew Speaker.” Health officials say tests so far indicate Speaker’s risk of spreading the infection are low.