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updated 8/24/2011 2:50:30 PM ET 2011-08-24T18:50:30

Eight former hotel guests are suing a Las Vegas Strip resort and its builders, seeking $337.5 million in damages and alleging they were exposed to Legionnaires' disease during stays there earlier this year.

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A lawyer for the plaintiffs said Wednesday the huge amount sought in compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of a handful of guests at the posh Aria Resort & Casino stems from negligence by resort owners MGM Resorts International and Dubai World, and the builders of the massive CityCenter complex. No hearing date was immediately set.

"What we're looking at is the management of the water plan," attorney Sam Mirkovich told The Associated Press. "There were multiple instances of the Legionella bacteria in the water system."

MGM Resorts executive spokesman Alan Feldman denied negligence. The 266-page lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Review-Journal. It involves three couples and two individuals from Arizona, California, Minnesota, Texas and Canada.

"While it is our policy to not comment on litigation, we have been very careful to communicate with each of our guests and reimburse them fairly for any legitimate medical expenses," Feldman said. "We intend to vigorously defend ourselves."

Six of the plaintiffs allege they were treated for Legionnaires' disease. The potentially fatal respiratory ailment got its name after more than 200 people were sickened and 34 died in 1976 after a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion. Health investigators said the bacteria apparently spread through the convention hotel air conditioning system.

The Las Vegas-based Southern Nevada Health District reported in July that six former Aria guests recovered after treatment for the disease. MGM Resorts notified guests they may have been exposed between June 21 and July 4.

Legionnaires’ disease hits Vegas hotel guests

Mirkovich said plaintiffs in the lawsuit weren't the same people reported by health officials to have been treated.

The 225-count complaint alleges guests were exposed to the disease in water vapor and steam when they used showers and faucets.

The glassy multistory Aria hotel, with nearly 4,000 rooms, opened in December 2009 as a key component of the $8.5 billion CityCenter resort complex.

The lawsuit was filed the same day Clark County officials asked MGM and Dubai World for more information about a proposal to implode a defective separate 26-story hotel that never opened. That property, called the Harmon hotel and condo tower, has been called a public safety risk.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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