With all of this talk about the swine flu or I guess I should call it by it’s politically correct name, the H1N1 virus, I got to thinking about people who are known for wearing breathing masks. Of course every one’s first thought is Jacko/Michael Jackson. But my next thought is that guy from Atlanta who flew to Europe even though he was told he had a drug resistant strain of tuberculosis, Andrew Speaker. Remember back in 2007 he left the country knowing he had tuberculosis to get married in Europe and that became a world wide story and an issue of National security. Well, since this guy was fresh in my mind, I thought I would Google him and this is what I found. He just filed a lawsuit yesterday and here is the story that was carried by ABC Channel 7 in Denver yesterday (4/29/09).
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta attorney who caused an international health scare when he flew to Europe for his wedding even though he was infected with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis is suing federal health officials, claiming they invaded his privacy.
Andrew Speaker got worldwide attention in 2007 after he flew knowing he had tuberculosis. Doctors first thought he had a more severe form, but later tests revealed a less dangerous strain.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Atlanta on Tuesday claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention damaged Speaker's reputation and made him the target of death threats. The lawsuit, which says he and his new bride split up because of the stress, seeks unspecified damages and court fees.
It accuses the CDC of "unlawfully and unneccessarily" revealing Speaker's private medical history and other sensitive information during an extensive media blitz in May 2007.
"This is about setting the record straight," Speaker said in a statement Wednesday. "Having my confidential medical history unnecessarily splashed across the world took a huge toll on me personally and professionally."
CDC spokesman Tom Skinner declined to comment.
"We are not in a position to have anything to say about pending litigation," he said.
Speaker, a plaintiff's attorney, was in Europe for his wedding and honeymoon when he learned tests showed he had an extremely drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis known as XDR-TB. He'd been advised not to fly to Europe in the first place, but at that point he'd been diagnosed with a less severe strain.
Despite warnings from health officials not to board another international flight, Speaker took a flight to Montreal and drove through the American border.
He subsequently became the first American quarantined by the federal government since 1963, and was treated in a Denver hospital. Health officials there learned that Speaker was infected with a less severe strain of the disease.
Speaker claims in the lawsuit that the unwanted attention led to death threats, caused him grave mental anguish and resulted in "so much strain on his marital relationship that he and his new bride parted ways after the wedding but before filing their marriage license."
None of that would have happened, the lawsuit claims, if "the CDC had complied with its statutory duties and not released details that identified" Speaker.
Listen, I feel bad for the guy. I am sure it was a terrifying incident but he brought most of it on himself. He should have postponed the wedding until after the situation was undger control instead of fleeing and possibly indangering thousands of people. Then for him to sneak back into the country is ridicoulus! Did he think the CDC and US Government was just going to forget? I am sorry that all of the stress caused his wife to leave him, but that is just a sign that she wasn’t in it for the right reasons. If she wasn’t strong enough to stick it out with him and support him through the tough times, then he shouldn’t be with her. So, I am sorry he had to go through all of that, but his case is bogus! I think the fact that I hadn’t thought about this guy in at least 2 years and the day I do think about him, he files a lawsuit is a little strange. Freaky!