Eighteen former Job Corps volunteers were awarded a total of $7.49 million in damages by a jury for brain injuries they suffered when a heating system malfunctioned and leaked carbon monoxide into their dormitory in Anaconda. The verdict was against Lennox Industries Inc. of Richardson, Texas, saying the corporation manufactured a line of defective heating systems that led to the poisoning of the volunteers. The Plaintiffs were asleep in the dormitory in August 2004 when the defective piping of a CompleteHeat furnace system malfunctioned, leaking the odorless gas throughout the building. The victims, many of them teenagers at the time, suffered permanent brain damage and other injuries. James K. Lubing, a lawyer from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, who helped try the case, said:
One night they were all sleeping in their dorm rooms and the next thing they know they’re being airlifted all over the country. Some were unconscious, some were having seizures, the whole gamut. But they all suffered significant poisoning.
Evidence presented at trial showed that Lennox distributed 40,000 furnaces of the same model and installed them in businesses and homes throughout the country. The lawsuit was filed in February 2006 and sought damages for brain injuries, physical and emotional pain, loss of established course of life, loss of earning capacity and medical bills. Anderson’s Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. of Missoula, the company that installed the defective furnace, was a Defendant in the complaint, but reached a settlement before the trial. The jury found that Lennox was responsible for 70% of the negligence, while Anderson’s was responsible for 30%. The jury awarded individual payments ranging from $268,000 to $591,000.
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