Family of First Swine Flu Victim to Sue City

It will be the first wrongful death suit linked to swine flu

By Victoria Cavaliere
|  Tuesday, Aug 11, 2009  |  Updated 8:00 PM EDT
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Photos: Swine Flu Outbreak Worldwide

Mitchell Wiener's widow Bonnie and her three children contend the city failed to provide a safe workplace after the H1N1 virus was detected in his Queens school.

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The family of a Queens school administrator who became the first person in New York City to die of swine flu said today they plan to file a $40 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

It would be the first wrongful death suit linked to the outbreak of the H1N1 flu strain, the city law department said.

Mitchell Wiener, 55, died in May after being admitted to a hospital with flu virus. He was the city's first swine flu victim.  To date, 47 people have died in the outbreak across New York City, health officials said.  Scores more have been infected with the illness.

Wiener was the assistant principal of I.S. 236 in Hollis -- one of several city schools to be temporarily shuttered after the swine flu sickened staff and students.

In a notice of claim filed on Tuesday, Wiener's widow, Bonnie, accused the city of failing to provide a safe workplace and failing to adequately control the H1N1 outbreak.  The claim contends that the city also failed to inform Wiener that he had come in contact with individuals who tested positive for the virus.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city did everything it could to swiftly to stop the outbreak and notify those who might have been infected.  "The city didn't do anything wrong," he said. 

He and city officials also said that Wiener had a pre-existing condition that made him more vulnerable to the disease.

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