A disaster was recently averted at a New York Applebee’s when two local emergency medical technicians (EMTs) detected toxic levels of carbon monoxide while being seated at the restaurant. EMTs are required to carry carbon monoxide detectors while on duty. At first, the EMTs thought the carbon monoxide detector was malfunctioning, but when the detector continued to alert after being reset, the EMTs began evacuating the restaurant. Nearly 100 Applebee’s customers and employees were evacuated from the scene.
A faulty water heater was later discovered to be the root cause of the far above average carbon monoxide levels within the establishment. Most homes featuring a properly adjusted gas stove may see carbon monoxide levels at around 15 ppm, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The evacuated Applebee’s was experiencing carbon monoxide levels between 80 ppm to 250 ppm, which is high enough to cause both serious injury and death.
Carbon monoxide is called the “Invisible Killer” because it cannot be detected without modern technology, such as carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas that is produced when carbon-based fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas, and oil are burned without enough oxygen present. When these fumes accumulate in enclosed spaces, they become deadly. Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning caused by non-automotive products takes the lives of approximately 170 people per year. This number increases during power outages due to severe weather, largely due to the use of generators. When Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. in 2005, at least 94 generator-related deaths were reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can range from headache, dizziness, nausea and chest pain to loss of consciousness, sometimes resulting in death. However, with a carbon monoxide detector, persons in a home or business will be alerted before the gas reaches a deadly level. There are many different types of carbon monoxide detectors:
In addition to using a carbon monoxide detector, all homeowners should also follow the following recommendations in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
Our firm has previously won substantial verdicts in cases for folks suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the most significant verdicts occurred in Harris v. Sears, Roebuck, and Co., a case we tried in the early 1990s. In that case, a grandmother and her three grandchildren were staying overnight in a friend’s mobile home that contained a gas water heater. The next morning, a friend discovered that all four of the family members were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Subsequently, one of the grandchildren died from her injuries.
The water heater manufacturer was sued for violating Alabama’s Extended Manufacturer’s Liability Doctrine, for negligence, and for wantonness. All of the claims were based on the defective design and manufacturing of the water heater. The water heater was defective, in part, because it did not contain a carbon monoxide sensor or carbon monoxide shut-off device. Greg Allen was the lead lawyer in the trial of this case. I helped him and together we were able to obtain a $12 million verdict for our clients.
Carbon monoxide detection has come a long way since we handled the Harris case in the early 1990s. If carbon monoxide detectors are available in homes and those detectors are properly designed, injuries and deaths like the ones that occurred in the Harris case can be prevented. If you have any questions regarding carbon monoxide poisoning or detection, please contact Greg Allen, Cole Portis or Stephanie Monplaisir, lawyers in our firm’s Personal Injury/Product Liability Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Greg.Allen@beasleyallen.com, Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com or Stephanie.Monplaisir@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: Huffington Post, CDC, Consumer Product Safety Commission, HowStuffWorks
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.