Could the tragic loss of these Columbia men have been prevented and are justice and compensation available to the families of Mr. Witherspoon and Mr. Roper?
61-year-old Calvin Witherspoon, Jr. and 30-year-old Derrick Caldwell Roper “were both found dead in separate apartments at the Allen Benedict Court apartment complex,” Thursday, January 17, 2019, according to The State.
The bodies of the two men were discovered when police “were called to perform welfare checks” and “noted the smell of gas,” The State reports. “Crews ultimately found multiple gas leaks at the public housing complex. Residents were displaced and fire crews continued to investigate the leaks well into Friday morning.”
Investigators told FOX 57, “the apartment units rely on natural gas, and they have not ruled out carbon monoxide poisoning” as a cause of death.” The Columbia Fire Department reportedly “responded to seven reports of gas leaks at Allen Benedict Court in 2018.” The incidents raise grave questions over apartment safety measures.
Our Legal Take
As the fire department continues its investigation, premises liability attorneys with The Murray Law Firm question whether a lack of emergency evacuation procedures and fire safety measures at the complex may have contributed to this incident.
- When was the last gas and utility inspection performed? When were carbon monoxide detectors last inspected and updated?
- Media reports indicate a history of gas leaks on property. What additional safety measures, such as working carbon monoxide detectors and frequent utility inspections, were implemented by the apartment complex owner following these incidents?
- What emergency evacuation procedures were in place to warn and remove residents upon first knowledge of a potentially deadly gas leak?
As details of this tragedy continue to emerge, The Murray Law Firm suggests that it is possible that the apartment complex owners or managers failed to undertake proper safety measures to protect those residents and guests legally on the premises. By law, the owner and management company of an apartment complex have a duty to protect residents and to keep the premises safe. If the owner or manager fails in this duty, they may be held civilly liable for any injuries or wrongful deaths that occur as a consequence.
Should the owner or management of the apartment complex be found at fault, the families of Calvin Witherspoon, Jr. and Derrick Caldwell Roper may elect to hold the owner and management company civilly liable for their wrongful deaths. Financial recovery for such claims could be substantial.
As insurance companies and unscrupulous property owners are often more concerned with limiting their financial exposure in these incidents, it is crucial that the victims retain an experienced premises liability firm as soon as possible to ensure all evidence, such as a faulty carbon monoxide alarm or a poor evacuation plan, is preserved and the victims’ best interests are protected. The Murray Law Firm has extensive experience in premises liability and apartment negligence cases, such as this, and we offer our legal expertise, if needed.
If anyone has information to share, or if anyone is seeking information regarding this incident, please contact us at 888.842.1616.
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The Murray Law Firm has an extensive and successful record representing victims of safety and security negligence. We have recovered millions of dollars for our Clients, and recently obtained a $29.25 million dollar verdict for a victim of an unsafe property. We offer our legal assistance, if desired.
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