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Dallas Hospital Blamed for Ohio Store’s Closure

DALLAS (CN) - A shuttered Ohio bridal shop sued Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas on Tuesday, claiming authorities forced its shutdown after an Ebola-infected nurse visited the store for a bridal gown fitting.

Coming Attractions Bridal and Formal Inc. sued corporate parent Texas Health Resources and Presbyterian Healthcare Resources in Dallas County Court, claiming the closure cost it "hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages" due to the hospital's negligence.

Presbyterian has faced severe criticism of its treatment of original Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, of Liberia, in October 2014. Nurses Amber Vinson and Nina Pham contracted the disease after treating Duncan.

The bridal shop says Vinson visited the store to pick out dresses for her upcoming wedding, just before she was diagnosed with Ebola upon her return to Dallas.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said at the time that Vinson "should not have been allowed to travel by plane" because "of the fact she was in an exposed group."

Coming Attractions says Presbyterian "negligently failed to heed" warnings of providing nurses with needed training and personal protective equipment while treating Duncan, who ultimately died at the hospital.

The National Nurses United union blasted Presbyterian during the crisis, saying the hospital initially opposed isolating Duncan, placing him for hours in a room with other patients and not providing adequate protective equipment to medical staff.

"Nurses and other frontline hospital personnel must have the highest level of protective equipment, such as the Hazmat suits Emory University or the CDC themselves use while transporting patients, and hands-on training and drills for all RNs and other hospital personnel including the practice putting on and taking off the optimal equipment," union head RoseAnn DeMoro said at the time. "The time to act is long overdue."

The Cleveland bridal shop says the protection and training provided to Vinson and Pham was "nominal at best."

"Following Duncan's death, the hospital reassured Ms. Vinson, Ms. Pham, and the other nurses that they were at no risk for contracting Ebola even though Ms. Vinson and Ms. Pham had alreaady unknowingly contracted the disease," the six-page complaint states. "On or about Oct. 8, 201[4], the hospital also negligently informed Ms. Vinson and Ms. Pham that they were free to intermingle with family, friends and the public at large, despite the nurses' exposure to the dangerously contagious disease."

Coming Attractions says its shop was mandated closed by Ohio authorities after Vinson was diagnosed with Ebola.

"The bridal shop thoroughly cleaned its store inventory and premises in an effort to eliminate the Ebola hazard before re-opening in November 2014," the complaint states. "Despite its best efforts to dispel the perceived Ebola risk and stigma associated with the bridal shop, the bridal shop continued to suffer loss of business and ultimately was forced to shut down permanently."

Texas Health Resources spokesman Stephen O'Brien said Wednesday the defendants are reviewing the lawsuit "but see no factual or legal basis for the arguments" the bridal store is making.

Coming Attractions seeks actual and punitive damages for negligence and gross negligence. It is represented by Patrick R. Kelly in Dallas.

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