Jury Returns $5 Million Verdict for Carbon Monoxide Death

Cunningham Bounds obtained a $5 million jury verdict in Baldwin County, Alabama for a woman’s death due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The incident occurred at The Palladian at Fairhope and the verdict holds Gateway Management Company, based in Birmingham, Alabama, responsible.

Our client’s rented apartment home at The Palladian included an attached and enclosed one-car garage. After running an errand on March 25, 2019, our client returned home to her apartment, parked her car in the garage, and went inside. A little while later, an alarm within the home activated. Based on the terms of her rental agreement, our client called management for someone to check the alarms. Maintenance came to her apartment and determined a smoke/carbon monoxide combination detector was the source of the alarm. All the detectors were then removed from the apartment and maintenance left the premises. Our client, having been told the detectors were malfunctioning and needed to be replaced, believed the problem had been corrected.

Several hours later, neighbors out for a walk noticed something was amiss with our client’s garage door. They then went into the apartment to check on her and discovered her unresponsive.

Our investigation revealed that our client’s car had keyless ignition and was running in her enclosed garage, producing the carbon monoxide that killed her. The removal of the carbon monoxide alarms, along with the negligent and wanton response of the maintenance/management company in removing the carbon monoxide detectors, led to her death. Gateway Management had no policies, procedures, training or education for property managers and maintenance professionals related to response, investigation or operation of carbon monoxide/smoke detectors in resident/tenant apartments. In fact, neither management nor maintenance knew our client’s apartment contained carbon monoxide detectors and neither knew the detectors would alarm for invisible, odorless, carbon monoxide in the environment.

There was no evidence at trial to show Gateway had done anything since our client’s death to ensure this does not happen again. In fact, it was confirmed during trial that our client’s apartment building – three years after her death – still did not meet safety code compliance.

“This was a very tragic incident that should have never happened. If Gateway Management had simply trained its employees properly and met safety compliance codes within its facilities, our client would be alive today,” said Toby Brown of Cunningham Bounds. “We are thankful for the jury’s verdict against Gateway and hope this will change the way Gateway manages properties in the future.”

Attorneys David Cain, Toby Brown and Dave Wirtes tried the case and obtained the verdict from a Baldwin County, Alabama jury.