The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 23, 2013

Widow sues federal government in Yosemite Hantavirus death case


The Daily Item

— WILLIAMSPORT — The widow of a vice president of Weis Markets is suing the federal government and the companies that operate guest facilities at Yosemite National Park in California following her husband’s death.

Carolyn Garisto of Lewisburg claims in a suit filed Tuesday in U.S. Middle District Court her husband Bruno died after being infected last year by the Hantavirus at a park facility called Signature Tents in Curry Village operated by Delaware North Companies Inc. of Buffalo, N.Y.

The complaint alleges defendants failed to maintain Curry Village in a safe and reasonable condition, did not follow their own policies and failed to take remedial measures to protect the facility from the virus found in feces, urine and saliva of deer mice.

Following the family vacation in June 2012, Bruno Garisto returned to work but that August developed flu-like symptoms, collapsed at home in Lewisburg, was taken to Evangelical Hospital and later to Penn State Hershey Medical Center where he died Aug. 10, 2012 at age 45.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the cause of death was from the Hantavirus and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, the complaint states.

The couple’s two children, identified only by initials, also are plaintiffs in the suit that accuses the defendants of willfully concealing the deer mice infestation problems at Curry Village and failing to insure the provided linens were not infested.

The facility was operated by Delaware North through Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts Inc. and DSNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite Inc., all of which are defendants along with the United States.

The complaint claims as early as September 2000 the California Department of Public Health recommended the Delaware North Companies reduce the risk of transmission of Hantavirus to humans in Yosemite and in February 2012 warned the defendants about the imminent Hantavirus threat to “uneducated tourists.”

The Curry Village operators are accused of failing to adhere to recommendations of the U.S. Department of Interior regarding rodent-proofing, monitoring, trapping, public awareness, maintenance and training.

Confirmed acute and recurring mice infestation in Curry Village was documented on May 14, 2012, the lawsuit claims. A male from California died from the virus in July 2012, the complaint states. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.