Second wrongful death lawsuit filed in carbon monoxide poisoning case

A second wrongful death lawsuit regarding the carbon monoxide poisoning death of Troy J. Sullivan and Kelli Ashcraft was filed in the San Juan County Superior Court on Nov. 21.

Attorneys Lincoln D. Sieler, of Seattle-based law firm Friedman Rubin, and Kevin Coluccio, also from Seattle, filed the complaint for damages on behalf of Brook Ashcraft and Thomas Ashcraft, who is the personal representative of the Estate of Kelli Ashcraft. Brook is the sister of Kelli and Thomas is their paternal uncle.

The complaint against Edward and Tami Ashcraft (Brook and Kelli’s parents), Jim’s Heating and Inter-Island Propane is for unspecified damages for negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death.

Attorney Chris Davis, of the Seattle-based Davis Law Group, filed a similar complaint on behalf of the Estate of Troy L. Sullivan on July 24.

Neither lawsuit has a hearing date set yet.

On April 4, 2017 Brook discovered Sullivan, 31, and Kelli, 22, dead in the bedroom of a home owned by Edward and Tami located outside of Friday Harbor. Both lawsuits claim the deaths were caused by an improperly repaired heating system inside the residence.

According to the July 24 lawsuit, toxicology reports showed that the level of carbon monoxide in Sullivan’s blood was 71 percent carboxyhemoglobin saturation while the average adult human typically contains less than 3 to 5 percent.

In the lawsuit filed on Nov. 21, it said that on the morning of April 4, “Brook awoke with a throbbing headache, was dizzy and had great difficulty walking.” It stated that she called out for help with no response. When she went to find out why no one had answered her, she found Kelli and Sullivan unconscious. According to court documents, Brook called 911 and began to perform CPR. She had to be hospitalized due to her exposure to carbon monoxide. Kelli and Sullivan both died from the exposure.

The first lawsuit alleges that homeowner Edward negligently repaired and modified the house’s heating system under the instruction of two Friday Harbor companies, Jim’s Heating and Refrigeration and Inter-Island Propane, LLC, both of which are owned and operated by Jimmie Lawson, II. It also alleges: “the repairs and modifications did not satisfy local building safety codes and manufacturer standards.” The lawsuit claims that the companies “knew about the negligence but took no action to protect occupants or guests of the home” and that the defendants’ acts and omissions caused Sullivan’s death as a guest at the residence.

Prior to April 4, Edward had installed an undersized plastic PVC vent pipe to the system’s exhaust outlet. The Sullivan lawsuits claims the PVC pipe later released lethal levels of carbon monoxide gas into the living spaces during the night while Sullivan slept.

Edward and Tami, represented by David P. Lancaster of the Seattle-based Law Offices of Rodney D. Hollenbeck, submitted an answer to the July 24 complaint on Oct. 12, wherein they denied many of the claims against them and sought to absolve Jim’s Heating and Inter-Island Propane of any involvement. Additionally, they stated that the piping used on the boiler unit was not meltable PVC, but rather acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), which has no melting point.

Jim’s Heating and Inter-Island Propane also claimed they were not involved in their answer document submitted on Aug. 30. Inter-Island Propane is being represented by Jonathan D. Ballard of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith of Seattle and Jim’s Heating is represented by Eric Gillet of Seattle-based firm Preg O’Donnell & Gillett.

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