B.C. couple awarded $300,000 after fireplace leaked carbon monoxide

Two Vancouver seniors experienced brain damage after gas leak

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered a company that caused a carbon-monoxide leak in an elderly Vancouver couple’s home to pay them more than $300,000 in damages.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson found that Margaret Elizabeth Edwards and John Philip James Pinel suffered depression, memory loss and serious cognitive damages after a carbon monoxide leak went undetected for months.

Edwards and Pinel were living in their Vancouver home in 2007 when they hired Kenorah Construction and Design to renovate their home.

Subsequently, the installation of three gas fireplaces was subcontracted out to Surrey-based Parkinson’s Heating Ltd.

Edwards and Pinel then re-hired Parkinson’s directly to service their gas fireplaces in February and November 2009.

Then on Jan. 10, 2010, the couple woke up in their bedroom with “severe” headaches, and over the next few days continued to feel sick.

On advice from a friend, Edwards called Terasen Gas to ask if there could be a carbon-monoxide leak in their home and was advised to turn off the gas.

A Terasen Gas worker visited the home on the same day to test for possible carbon-monoxide emissions.

After turning the gas back on, he tested various appliances and fireplaces and found that the living room fireplace was emitting carbon monoxide from its vents.

Michael Slater, the Parkinson’s employee who had serviced their fireplaces in 2009, came to inspect the carbon-monoxide emissions and found that the screw designed to secure the draft hood to the spill tube, which vents carbon monoxide into the chimney and out of the house, was missing.

This made a gap that let the carbon monoxide flow directly into the house.

Edwards and Pinel allege that Slater was negligent in servicing the living room fireplace in 2009 because he did not check for carbon-monoxide emissions.

Slater admitted that he did not check during his first visit but that he did during his second visit.

Hinkson found Slater’s testimony about his second visit “unreliable and that he has reconstructed what he wishes to believe he did on that date.”

Hinkson said that the fireplace was likely leaking carbon monoxide between Nov. 13, 2009, when Slater made his second service visit, up until Jan. 4, 2010, when he came to determine why the fireplace was leaking carbon monoxide.

Upon hearing a doctor’s testimony, Hinkson found that Pinel turned from an “intellectual, ambitious, energetic and vibrant man with a passion for learning and writing” into one who now spends spends “much of his days watching TV sometimes with a blank screen, that he reads much less, and writes almost nothing” and has been depressed and had suicidal thoughts.

Hinkson found that although Edwards suffered fewer concequences as a result of her carbon monoxide exposure, some of her recent short temper and impatience can be attributed to that exposure.

The judge found that as a result of the brain damage caused by the carbon monoxide, the couple suffered a “loss of friendship and intimacy.”

Pinel was awarded $200,000 in non-pecuniary damages and Edwards was awarded $50,000. Jointly, the two were awarded $53,000 towards the cost of Pinel’s care and a further $8,416 in other damages.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Tweedsmuir Park wildfires grow to encompass more than 200,000 hectares

Four fires now managed under one as Tweedsmuir Complex, evacation orders and alerts still in place

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

Former Trump aide Paul Manafort found guilty of eight charges

A mistrial has been declared for the other 10 charges against him

Canada’s team chasing elusive gold medal at women’s baseball World Cup

Canada, ranked No. 2 behind Japan, opens play Wednesday against No. 10 Hong Kong

Former B.C. detective gets 20 months in jail for kissing teen witnesses

James Fisher, formerly with Vancouver police department, pleaded guilty to three charges in June

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark criticizes feds for buying pipeline

The $4.5 billion purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline second worst decision, she said

‘Takes more courage to fail’: B.C. ultra-marathon swimmer reflects on cancelled try at record

Susan Simmons halted her swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back because of hypothermia

Animals moved from B.C. Interior shelters to make way for pets displaced by wildfires

The Maple Ridge SPCA houses animals to make space for pets evacuated from B.C.’s burning interior.

$21.5 million medical pot plant to be built in B.C.

The facility is to be built in Princeton

Spokane man enlists 500,000+ box fans to blow wildfire smoke back to B.C.

Spokane man Caleb Moon says he’s had enough with smoky skies from B.C.’s forest fires blanketing his city

Most Read