CHICAGO (CN) – A 2-year-old child died because a defective Whirlpool water heater let her bathwater reach the scalding temperature of 138 degrees, the child’s father claims in Cook County Circuit Court. Once hospitalized, doctors contributed to the girl’s death by piercing her stomach with breathing equipment meant for an adult, according to the complaint.
Bryant King says 2-year-old baby Mikayla was having a bath at the family’s home in Hinckley, Ill., on Feb. 24, 2010, when the water reached scalding temperatures. The Dekalb County Sherriff’s Office found two days later that the water temperature reached 138 degrees, according to the complaint.
The federal government’s U.S. Product Safety Commission recommends that citizens set their water heaters to 120 degrees, noting that even a five-minute exposure to that temperature can cause third degree burns. It says exposing a child under 4 to water that is 140 degrees, for under three seconds, will cause third degree burns.
When Mikayla arrived at Provena Hospitals dba Mercy Medical Center, Dr. Marc Crescenzo placed an intubation tube in her trachea to administer oxygen and medication, according to the complaint. The tube used, however, was designed for adults, and its excessive length punctured Mikayla’s stomach, King says.
Doctors then transferred Mikayla to nonparty Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., where she died on April 18.
King’s wrongful death claims against Whirlpool, which manufactured his home’s water heater, turn on product liability and negligent design.
The claim against Whirlpool alleges that the well-known manufacturing giant provided a defective heater, failed to assess its risks and failed to warn consumers of those risks. Whether the alleged defect lies in the assembly, manufacturing or design of the water heater could be revealed in the course of the lawsuit.
King also sued his landlord, David Smith, for negligence, claiming that he failed to maintain a proper hot water system in the home. Smith did not repair the defect before the Kings moved in, nor did he inform them of it, according to the complaint.
Provena and Dr. Crescenzo face medical malpractice claims.
King is represented by Jay Paul Deratany.