Michigan Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The family of a Michigan woman who died of carbon monoxide poisoning has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturers of her home’s heating systems, alleging that defective products caused her to be exposed to the toxic gas. The family is also seeking damages from the county, because the death occurred a day after emergency response workers were called to the home and allegedly failed to detect the carbon monoxide leak.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by the family of Susan K. Arrington in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on December 23, naming numerous defendants, including Paloma Industries of Nagoya, Japan, the Rheem Manufacturing Company, Emerson Electric Co., Lake County, Michigan, and others.

According to allegations raised in the carbon monoxide poisoning lawsuit, the 63 year-old Arrington died in her home on December 27, 2012. The family claims that the death was attributed, at least in part, by exposure to carbon monoxide gas stemming from a hole in her heat exchanger. Arrington died a day after both private and county emergency personnel came to her home following complaints consistent with symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure.

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In addition to claims presented against various companies associated with the manufacture or sale of the home heating systems, the family also claims that the failure to diagnose the carbon monoxide exposure by emergency responders caused Arrington’s exposure to continue, ultimately resulting in her death.

The family is accusing defendants of defective design, defective manufacturing, marketing a defective product, failure to warn, breach of warranty, negligence, strict liability, misrepresentation, violating Michigan building codes and the state’s consumer protection act, defective workmanship, failure to properly inspect the premises, breach of contract, loss of consortium, and spoilation of evidence.

Carbon monoxide is a significantly toxic gas that has no irritating factors that can allow someone to detect its presence. Because people often fail to immediately recognize that they are being exposed to the gas, many people are left with serious side effects from carbon monoxide exposure.

Known as the “silent killer”, carbon monoxide is a leading cause of fatal poisonings in the United States. According to the CDC, there are more than 500 carbon monoxide poisoning deaths each year in the United States, and more than 15,000 people require emergency room treatment following exposure to the gas annually. In many cases individuals who survive exposure are left with serious and life-long injuries due to brain damage from carbon monoxide.

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