One week after the decomposing body of Canadian tourist Elisa Lam, 21, was discovered in its rooftop cistern, the Hotel Cecil of Los Angeles has been sued by guests who spent days drinking and bathing in water from the tank. According to NBC News, two guests, Stephen and Gloria Cott filed suit on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Lam was last seen alive on Jan. 31. Security camera footage from that Thursday night showed Lam acting frightened, ducking and hiding repeatedly in one of the hotel’s elevators. Her body was found weeks later when hotel guests complained of low water pressure. A maintenance worker found the woman’s decomposing body at the bottom of one of the hotel’s 4 rooftop 4-foot-by-8-foot tanks.
Guests felt “sickened” to discover the source of the “funny smell” and taste of the hotel’s water, but the Cotts are the first to file suit.
Test of the water proved that it contained no harmful bacteria and posed no serious risks to the health of guests. Angelo Bellomo, director of environmental health for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health told NBC that a combination of cold weather and chlorination provided protection against disease-causing organisms in the water.
However, a do-not-drink order remains in effect for the building. Bellomo said that the his department required to hotel to provide a plan for draining, flushing and sanitizing its plumbing and that the plan is currently underway. Further tests by the Health Department will be necessary before the order is lifted.
The Los Angles Police Department’s homicide division is investigating Lam’s death. The coroner’s office performed an autopsy, but has so far declined to release a cause of death to the public.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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