The Elmira Housing Authority continues to refuse to allow a leading expert on Legionnaires’ disease onsite to assist in the investigation into the recent outbreak at Elmira’s Flannery Towers.

The Ziff Law Firm has been retained by three families affected by the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at Elmira’s Flannery Towers. We have been pressing the Elmira Housing Authority for nearly a week to allow Matthew Freije, a nationally recognized expert from Carlsbad, California in the areas of legionella and waterborne illnesses, to assist Chemung County’s Health Department in its investigation.

Mr. Freije is one of the nation’s leading consultants in legionella investigations, teaches courses on legionella and other waterborne pathogens, is the editor of Legionella E-news, has led research field studies regarding the removal of legionella and other bacteria, and is the content manager for, a website referenced and linked by government agencies, professional societies and news media throughout the world.

On Friday, August 22, 2008 the Chemung County Health Department confirmed another resident of the Flannery Towers had contracted Legionnaires’ disease – bring the total number of confirmed cases to 10. Interestingly, the Elmira Star Gazette reported today that the Health Department formally recommended the Elmira Housing Authority hire a legionella expert, exactly what our firm has been offering to do at no cost to the Housing Authority for nearly a week.

Specifically, as early as Tuesday, August 19, 2008 the Chemung County Health Department told Ziff Law it was not opposed to allowing Mr. Freije to conduct an independent investigation of the Edward Flannery Towers, but deferred to the Elmira Housing Authority for granting permission. However, the Housing Authority has steadfastly denied our request.

Obviously many residents at Flannery Towers are very concerned about this situation. This is not a time for gamesmanship. The residents and their families are trying to make important decisions – whether to stay at the Towers or try to find temporary housing elsewhere. To deny one of the nation’s leading legionella experts permission it be onsite at the most critical stage of the investigation – the beginning – is irresponsible. The Housing Authority ought to be willing to do whatever it can to prevent further illness and death. To that end we all should be working together to allow the most qualified and experienced people to help us solve this health emergency.

Thanks for reading,

Christina Bruner Sonsire, Esq.