Fatal Fire Blamed on Faulty Air Conditioner

     (CN) – Two Alabama brothers claim in court that a faulty air conditioner caught fire in the middle of the night, burned their home to the ground and caused their mother to die of smoke inhalation.



     “On the early morning of May 8, 2010, Roosevelt King and his brother, Robert Lee King, woke up to a house filled with thick smoke. He proceeded to crawl through the house in an effort to get his mother, Annie Bell King, out of her room where the smoke was especially thick. By the time he reached her room, Roosevelt found his mother on the floor, gasping for air. Continuing to crawl on the floor with his mother, he pulled her out of her room. The paramedics and fire department were called by a neighbor, who had noticed thick smoke coming from the house which proceeded to burn and was destroyed by fire. While being rushed to the hospital by paramedics, Annie Bell King died.”
     The Kings say the fire originated from a defective, haphazardly installed air conditioning unit. They sued the Trane Company, Ethridge Heating and Air, and State Farm Fire and Casualty Company in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
     “On the evening of May 7, 2010, Roosevelt King heard a strange buzzing like sound coming from the HVAC unit followed by a loss of electricity to his home which prompted him to call defendant Ethridge,” the complaint states. “He spoke with one of its representatives and explained to her what he was hearing from the unit. Because the unit was still under warranty, he requested and expected the Ethridge representative to send a service person out to his home right away to address the issue. During their conversation, he flipped the breaker switch and the electricity to his home was restored, but the unit continued to malfunction and did not come back on, although the buzzing like sound stopped. Given that it was a very hot May day, he remained concerned about the unit and tried unsuccessfully to get the Ethridge representative to send a service person to his home that evening. He could not convince her, but was told in essence that a service person would be at his home the next day.”
     State Farm did not notify Roosevelt King that his homeowner’s insurance had lapsed, the suit says. He claims the insurance premiums were deducted from his bank account the same time each month.
     “April 2010’s premium was presented for payment too early which was not honored due to the time it was presented and created a bank charge,” King says.
     The Kings seek compensatory and punitive damages for wrongful death, manufacturer liability, breach of implied warranty, negligence, breach of contract and bad faith. They are represented by Victor Spencer in in Birmingham.

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