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Lawsuit blames linens at 3rd hospital for patient mold death

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Another lawsuit has been filed against a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospital, blaming linens for causing the mold-related death of a leukemia patient.

Thursday's lawsuit says Katherine Landman's October 2015 death is the seventh at a UPMC hospital caused by linens provided by Paris Cleaners. It's the first lawsuit filed in a death at UPMC Shadyside hospital. The other deaths occurred at UPMC Presbyterian and Montefiore hospitals.

Of those dead, five were transplant patients and two were cancer patients.

Landman's infection came from a type of mold that entered her sinuses after she was admitted to Shadyside for a bone marrow transplant, says the lawsuit, filed by her husband. Doctors performed surgery on her sinus cavity to remove the fungus, but they found the infection was incurable.

"I feel like they knew what was wrong, but nobody wanted to step up and admit it," Landman's father said.

UPMC issued a statement saying its hospitals "are safe, and our ongoing monitoring and testing show no evidence concerning mold infections."

Paris Cleaners, of DuBois, also issued a statement saying federal and state investigators have "said the facts don't support the conclusion that these infections resulted from exposure to linens."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted an investigation into the first three UMPC mold cases in 2015. The CDC said it was "probable" that a case originated from the hospital if a patient had stayed for at least 14 days.

The lawsuit says samples obtained by an environmental specialist hired by UPMC showed "heavy fungal growth" of Rhizopus, the form of mold that infected Landman and other patients.

Six lawsuits have been filed in the mold-related deaths. A settlement was reached for two of the lawsuits filed on behalf of transplant patients for $1.35 million each.