Lawsuit: Best Western hotel carbon monoxide deaths could have been prevented

It’s been nearly two years since Daryl and Shirley Jenkins died of carbon monoxide poisoning while vacationing at the Best Western in Boone, N.C., and now their children are asking that somebody be held accountable. Their list is broad. A lawsuit filed Monday in Mecklenburg Superior Court blames Best Western International, the owners of the Boone hotel and its former manager. Also named are a gas company, one of its contract employees and a local heating technician, all of whom worked on the hotel’s swimming pool heating system where the carbon monoxide originated.

One of the most poignant sections of the lawsuit catalogs previous deaths and poisonings from carbon monoxide at Best Westerns and other brands of hotels. Despite those past tragedies, the suit claims Best Western International “made a deliberate and conscious decision not to require the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in critical areas of its hotel buildings.”

Less than two months after the Jenkinses died on April 16, 2013, 11-year-old Jeffrey Williams of Rock Hill died in the same room and his mother, Jeannie, was poisoned. The Williams family is expected to sue for damages, too. Their claims likely will be similar, but also include allegations of negligence by various officials who investigated the Jenkinses’ deaths.

Both families have made it their mission to get carbon monoxide detectors installed in every room in every hotel in every state.

“You’d hope it’s an isolated incident,” Kris Hauschildt said about the deaths of her parents. “It’s not.”

Preventable tragedies
Hauschildt and her brother, Doug Jenkins, believe their parents would be alive if the Best Western Blue Ridge Plaza had had detectors in its guest rooms – despite what they described as the “horrifying” conditions of the hotel’s swimming pool heating system.

“The only fighting chance they had against any of this was to have a carbon monoxide detector in that room,” Hauschildt said in an interview Monday.

After the three deaths in Boone, and the poisoning of guests last August at a Best Western in Pennsylvania, the board of directors of Best Western International voted to require carbon monoxide detectors in guest rooms.

Most hotels do not.

North Carolina passed a law in 2013 requiring carbon monoxide alarms in certain places in hotels with fossil-fuel-burning appliances. The law does not require alarms in all guest rooms.

The lawsuit claims Best Western International “should have known that incidents involving carbon monoxide sickness or poisoning were occurring with alarming regularity throughout the hospitality industry.”

Deaths Of 3 In Same Hotel Room Blamed On Carbon Monoxide

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