In 2014 and 2015, Legionnaires’ disease broke out in Mid-Michigan, and several key people, including the chief medical executive of Michigan, Dr. Eden Wells, are accused of failing to prevent the outbreak. She is facing involuntary manslaughter charges. These types of felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500. About 90 people in Genesee County contracted Legionnaires’ Disease, and 12 cases ended in death.
Wells was initially charged with lying to police and obstruction of justice, but the Michigan Attorney General added the manslaughter charge later. Experts say the cooling and misting systems used in treating the Flint River water for municipal use led to the bacterial growth that caused the outbreak. Wells is accused of taking no action to prevent the outbreak, even though she allegedly knew of the danger.
The Attorney General says that even though the defendant had knowledge of the Legionnaires’ outbreak, she delayed warning the public. Her legal counsel says Wells denies wrongdoing. The defense claims she was part of the tireless investigation and efforts to resolve the water-related issues and had no legal duty to issue public warnings.
Those who are accused of felonies like involuntary manslaughter have a lot on the line. The potential damage to personal and professional reputations is obvious. Getting an experienced criminal defense attorney in his or her corner as soon as possible can be an invaluable asset. Anyone accused of a felony is presumed innocent until, and only if, the prosecution can prove guilt in court and beyond a reasonable doubt, and skilled legal counsel can protect the defendant’s legal rights throughout while working toward achieving the best possible outcome for the client.