Safety Lapse? Our Legal Take: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Suspected Cause of Riverfront Heights Apartment Deaths
Investigators reportedly suspect carbon monoxide poisoning to be the cause of four deaths at the Evergreen Apartments at Riverfront Heights Friday, March 25, 2016.
The News Journal reports four tenants of Building G were discovered unresponsive inside two apartment units Friday. Other adults and children in the same building were apparently hospitalized.
Although the cause of death is still under investigation, DNREC’s Environmental Programs administrator “toured the boiler rooms at the complex and found a range of items needing to be replaced, like leaking pipes. The state of the exhaust system in Building G forced waste gas from the boiler to enter the mechanical room, directly beneath the two apartments where people died…” Based on this investigation, The News Journal reports that “[w]hile there still is no official cause, carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected.”
“About 430 people die every year in the United States because of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to data collected by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.” CDC Spokeswoman Bernadette Burden cautions, “Between smart use, carbon monoxide detectors and correctly maintained appliances…these cases are 100 percent preventable.”
Our Legal Take
Apartment complex residents have a right to feel safe and secure within the community. Given the reported state of the exhaust system, The Murray Law Firm questions the level of safety provided at the apartment complex, and whether this tragedy may have been prevented.
- When was Building G’s exhaust system last inspected? Was the apartment owner and management aware of the alleged leaking pipes? If so, what efforts were made to notify residents and rectify the problem?
- Were Building G units outfitted with carbon monoxide detectors and, if so, when were these last inspected and replaced?
Generally, property owners are required to provide a safe property, and protect all residents and guests legally on the premises from any foreseeable harm. Should the facts of this matter reveal that the apartment complex owner or management company failed to undertake adequate safety measures and conduct appropriate inspections to ensure the protection of those on its premises, the families of those victims who lost their lives may seek justice and elect to pursue a legal claim for their wrongful deaths. Additionally, those who suffered carbon monoxide exposure may pursue a claim for their injuries.
Given the complexities of pursuing a potential carbon monoxide poisoning case such as this, it is imperative that the victims retain an experienced attorney who can ensure the preservation of any and all evidence that may support such a claim. Based upon its prior experience in handling apartment safety negligence claims, The Murray Law Firm suggests that photographs and a thorough, unbiased inspection of the property will need to be performed immediately, before any evidence may be repaired, damaged or destroyed.
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