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edmondbcfv

Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

4 posts Posted 11 February 2014 - 10:40 AM My father lived in a townhouse complex where the neighbor's unit had an electrical fire in the shared wall.  My father's unit was not burned but there was extensive smoke damage.  A company came in and "cleaned" the unit but my father was not relocated.  Three weeks later he was dead from pneumonia, found on his dining room floor where he had been living since the fire since it was farthest away from the burned unit.  AFter his death my sister and I went in to clean things out and could not even enter the unit without opening windows from the smoke smell.  Also came across large patches of black mold and had the air tested, large quantities of toxic black mold found.  We talked with a friend who is a fire chief and he told us to get a lawyer and sue the complex for wrongful death.  Just wondering if it is worth the time and effort -- we are still grieving our dad's loss and so angry that he was living in these circumstances.  Thank you! Posted 11 February 2014 - 11:52 AM His unit was cleaned; the neighbor was relocated to a different unit.   The fire chief we talked to said there are poisonous gases released for a long time after a fire, including cyanide and that those can directly cause pneumonia.  He told us the air should have been tested before allowing my father to remain in the unit.     Thanks for your input, we are going to go ahead and talk to a personal injury attorney and see if they think we have a case but I am not feeling very hopeful that anyone will take it on. 58,490 posts Posted 11 February 2014 - 12:08 PM And does this fire chief friend work in the department in question, or another jurisdiction?  If elsewhere, can he ascertain through the grapevine whether the relevant fire department warned your father or the owner of your father's unit about X-Y-Z?  ... why they didn't issue a temporary condemnation of your father's place?  'cause if none of those things happened, I'd be looking to the fire department for nonfeasance, or perhaps "the company" you mention that cleaned the place (if it was a company that touted post-fire remediation issues, that would be even worse ... vs. a simple "cleaning company")     From the conditions you describe, your father would seem to have been legally incompetent either before or as of the fire to avoid the conclusion that he shouldn't stay there.   You don't say how this fire chief friend concluded that "the complex" is the party to sue either, even if it is a "complex" that is a landlord/property manager that rents out ALL the townhouses or merely your father's place.  Can't know what they knew or "should have" known that your father didn't.    "Three weeks later he was dead from pneumonia, found on his dining room floor where he had been living since the fire since it was farthest away from the burned unit." I don't see any argument that you all have that his death can be attributed to a third party's failure to act (aside from the fire department, or a landlord if the landlord knew about the issue).    "We talked with a friend who is a fire chief and he told us to get a lawyer and sue the complex for wrongful death." I'm afraid it's not quite that simple, but you're certainly free to talk with a few personal injury attorneys (I'd counsel against just one). I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations Dog Bite and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  43,722 posts Posted 11 February 2014 - 12:16 PM The fire chief we talked to said there are poisonous gases released for a long time after a fire, including cyanide and that those can directly cause pneumonia.  He told us the air should have been tested before allowing my father to remain in the unit.   Here's the problem.  I didn't know that, and apparently neither did you or your father, so there's probably no reason to think the landlord knew this unless someone from the fire department told the landlord (which I assume you would have mentioned if you had reason to believe it happened).   In any event, consulting with an attorney is the only way you're going to get clear counsel on this. 4 posts Posted 11 February 2014 - 01:03 PM Thank you for your thoughtful responses.  The fire chief is one in California, not Texas where the fire happened, my sister and I both live in California.  I am not sure what drew him to the conclusion that the complex is at fault, his only comment was to get a lawyer -- my assumption was that he meant the owner/property manager.     We are trying to get some information from the fire station that handled the fire.  We have repeatedly asked the complex for the documentation of the cleaning service report (it was a post-fire remediation service) as well as the air quality report they say they have but that we have not seen.   58,490 posts Posted 11 February 2014 - 01:11 PM Even if in CA, the fire chief would be a great way to get access to relevant details through brethren in Texas.   "We are trying to get some information from the fire station that handled the fire." I'd ask the fire chief friend to do this; he will meet with much better results (if he hasn't offered, who knows whether he means that to be a signal not to ask).   I wouldn't be pestering the "complex" about this and giving them a heads-up.  If you know what you know about the air quality simply as a layperson, I'd leave it at that for the moment.  Leave it to counsel to worry about the rest. I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  58,490 posts Posted 11 February 2014 - 04:13 PM I don't think you ever circled back to the topic of an autopsy.  Certainly, if there was water damage from the firefighters' efforts next door and the drywall and what not weren't removed to proactively prevent mold, that might become a problem (too), but I'd wonder at why your father wouldn't have sought medical intervention if he was dead from pneumonia (and that is certain, or just someone's knee-jerk post-death diagnosis?) within 21 days.  I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation. 
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