Carbon monoxide

June 7, 2013

Minnesota Supreme Court applies pollution exclusion to carbon monoxide

Source:, June 4, 2013
By: Brian Margolies, Traub Lieberman Strauss & Shrewsberry LLP

In its recent decision in Midwest Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. Wolters, 2013 Minn. LEXIS 304 (Minn. May 31, 2013), the Minnesota Supreme Court had occasion to consider whether an absolute pollution exclusion applies to bodily injury resulting from an indoor release of carbon monoxide.

Wolters was a general contractor that had been hired to build a home with an in-floor radiant heating system. It was later determined that Wolters purchased and installed the wrong type of boiler for the project. Further, the boiler itself was negligently installed. As a result, and because the home’s carbon monoxide detectors also were negligently installed, the homeowners suffered injury as a result of severe carbon monoxide poisoning. The homeowners later filed suit against Wolters.

Midwest Family Mutual insured Wolters under a general liability policy. Midwest provided Wolters with defense in the underlying suit, but subsequently brought a coverage action seeking a declaration of non-coverage based on its policy’s pollution exclusion, which states in pertinent part:

9. We do not pay for bodily injury or property damage:

a. arising wholly or partially out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, dispersal, release or escape of pollutants: . . .

4) at or from any premises where you or any contractor or subcontractor, directly or indirectly under your control, are working or have completed work:

a) if the pollutant is on the premises in connection with such work, unless the bodily injury or property damages arise from the heat, smoke or fumes of a fire which becomes uncontrollable or breaks out from where it was intended to be; or

b) if the work in any way involves testing, monitoring, clean-up, containing, treating or removal of pollutants.…

December 11, 2012

Hypothermia and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Cases Soar in City After Hurricane

Source: New York Times Online, November 29, 2012
Posted on:

The number of cold-exposure cases in New York City tripled in the weeks after Hurricane Sandy struck compared with the same period in previous years, the health department reported in an alert to thousands of doctors and other health care providers on Wednesday.

And even though power and heat have been restored to most of the city, there are still thousands of people living in the cold, the department said.

The department warned health care providers that residents living in unheated homes faced “a significant risk of serious illness and death from multiple causes.”

The number of cases of carbon monoxide exposure, which can be fatal, was more than 10 times as high as expected the week of the storm and 6 times as high the next week, reflected in greater numbers of emergency department visits. Calls to the city’s poison center also increased, health officials said.

And as temperatures dip, health officials said the cold could lead to other health problems, including a worsening of heart and lung diseases and an increase in anxiety and depression.

“My bigger concern is what happens in the future as we get closer to winter in the next four weeks,” Dr. Thomas A. Farley, the city’s health commissioner, said in an interview. “There are probably about 12,000 people living in unheated apartments right now.”

Between Nov. 3 and 21, more than three times as many people visited emergency rooms for cold exposure as appeared during the same time periods from 2008 to 2011, the health department said. The storm hit on Oct. 29.…

June 21, 2011

New Plaintiffs File Suit In CO Incident

Source:, April 17, 2009
By: Shawn J. Soper

Less than one week after the settlement of a $30 million wrongful death lawsuit filed last year by the family of two Pennsylvania tourists who died of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in a Boardwalk motel room in 2006, five separate plaintiffs inflicted with CO poisoning in adjacent rooms during the same incident filed suit in U.S. District Court.

On March 27, the case filed in U.S. District Court by the family of two victims who died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the Days Inn Oceanfront on the Boardwalk at 22nd Street was settled before reaching trial for an undisclosed amount. The 24-count federal suit was seeking $30 million from the various defendants including the Bay Shore Development Corporation, owner of the motel where the tragic incident occurred; Heat Transfer Products, Inc., the manufacturer of the faulty water heater deemed as the source of the CO leak; R.E. Michel Co. Inc., the Glen Burnie-based company that distributed the water heater; and All About Plumbing, the local company that purchased and installed the water heater in the Boardwalk hotel months before the incident.

Six days later on April 2, a total of 10 new plaintiffs filed suit in U.S. District Court naming the same defendants in the original case along with several others including parent companies and subsidiaries of motel’s ownership. Five of the plaintiffs were in the two of the rooms on the first floor of the motel and suffered directly from CO poisoning and were later hospitalized. The other five plaintiffs were either husbands or parents, or both, of the five victims and were indirectly affected by the incident.

The new suit includes 35 total counts, including premises liability charges against Bay Shore Corporation, Avis Budget Group, Wyndam Worldwide Corporation, and Days Inn Worldwide, Inc. Each of the five plaintiffs who suffered from CO is seeking $5 million collectively from the aforementioned defendants.

However, most of the counts listed in the suit are filed against the other defendants who allegedly had a hand, directly or indirectly, with the installation of the faulty water heater blamed for the tragedy. For example, each of the five victims is seeking $5 million collectively from the defendants on several counts including negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, and strict liability for a total amount sought of $25 million on each of the four counts.

Each of the husbands of the adult women afflicted with CO poisoning is seeking an additional $1 million for loss of consortium. The parents of the two teenage girls allegedly poisoned with CO are also seeking $100,000 each for medical bills for their children.…

September 1, 2010

Downtown hotel evacuated after carbon monoxide scare

Acknowledgement to Ironshore Environmental

By Brian R. Ballou, Globe Staff, and Michaela Stanelun, Globe Correspondent
The Boston Globe

Elevated levels of carbon monoxide forced the evacuation today of the Liberty Hotel, sending hundreds of workers, guests and two monkeys and a pet crow out onto Charles Street.

When the owner of the crow named “Shaft” heard the words “carbon monoxide,” he immediately rushed outdoors because he did not want his bird to become the canary in the coal mine. The monkeys were also hustled outside by their trainers, who were fearful that the noxious fumes might sicken the small primates. …