Claims Against United States Based on Exposure to Hantavirus in Yosemite Park Permitted to Proceed

On February 26, 2016, Judge Chensey of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the discretionary function exception did not bar certain negligence claims asserted against the United States stemming from an outbreak of Hantavirus at Yosemite National Park during the summer of 2012. Five lawsuits were filed following deaths and other injuries sustained by vacationers visiting Yosemite during the outbreak. A wrongful death action was filed by Myers, Brier & Kelly, LLP, on behalf of the wife, children and Estate of Bruno Garisto, who died after contracting Hantavirus during a June 2012 family vacation to Curry Village in Yosemite Park. The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized all five Hantavirus cases in an MDL in the Northern District of California. The United States filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the discretionary function exception barred the plaintiffs’ claims against the government. In a forty-three page opinion and order Judge Chesney held that the discretionary function exception did not shield the United States from plaintiffs’ claims regarding certain allegations of negligence against the United States leading to the Hantavirus outbreak. Further, Judge Chesney held that the plaintiffs’ claim that the government significantly delayed notifying park visitors of possible Hantavirus exposure following confirmation of Hantavirus in Yosemite was not barred by the discretionary function exception. Myers, Brier & Kelly looks forward to proceeding with this litigation and holding the United States accountable for the grievous harm suffered by the plaintiffs.

News Coverage: Courthouse News Service March 1, 2016 Hantavirus Claims Against USA Can Proceed