Cook County Record

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Woman dies when home heat reaches 150 degrees, estate sues furnace installer

By Dan Harkins | May 5, 2015

The estate of an elderly woman who died in a house in which the interior temperature reached 150 degrees Fahrenheit has sued the company that installed a boiler and thermostat the day before her death.

Leroy Griffin Jr., as administrator of the estate of Mary Griffin, filed a lawsuit April 28 in Cook County Circuit Court against Care-N-Comfort Inc., of Posen, and PB Heat, of Chicago, citing wrongful death and negligence.

According to the complaint, on April 16, Care-N-Comfort installed a new boiler unit and thermostat for Griffin's home in the 9000 block of S. Winston Ave., Chicago, and the 90-year-old woman was found dead inside the home the next day.

"Upon entering the home," the lawsuit states, "first responders found the temperature within the home measured approximately 150 degrees Fahrenheit, ... so great that the glue affixing the ceiling tiles to the bathroom ceiling melted and caused the tiles to fall to the ground." The medical examiner determined Griffin's death was caused by "heat stress due to furnace malfunction," the suit says.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants were negligent and/or careless when they failed to properly wire and connect the thermostat to the boiler; failed to properly install the thermostat and boiler; failed to replace old equipment, including old wiring; failed to ensure no water was leaking into the apparatus; failed to confirm the thermostat and boiler were "communicating properly before leaving the residence;" failed to follow installation instructions; installed the boiler in such a way the home reached 150 degrees; and installed the thermostat and boiler so the thermostat couldn't shut off the boiler when the home "exceeded the desired temperature on the thermostat."

Leroy Griffen Jr. seeks damages of more than $150,000, plus costs. He is represented by attorney Evan M. Smola, of Hurley, McKenna and Mertz in Chicago.

Cook County Circuit Court case number: 15-L-4369.

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