Leesfield Scolaro recently represented a couple exposed to carbon monoxide while on vacation in a foreign country. Despite numerous legal obstacles, an eight-figure settlement was secured in less than nine months. This is the latest of several CO exposure cases this firm has handled recently, an area of personal injury that requires creative legal strategizing and extensive legal experience.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide poisoning arises when one breathes in carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas devoid of scent, flavor, and hue. Even minimal exposure can have various effects on an individual, leading to fatigue, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide over a substantial duration can give rise to grave symptoms and health hazards, such as loss of consciousness, permanent brain damage, and fatality.
In 2008, Ira H. Leesfield played a crucial role in facilitating the passage of Florida’s first law to fight against Carbon Monoxide Exposure in dwellings. This legislation mandates that any newly constructed building, for which a building permit is issued on or after July 1, 2008, and equipped with a fossil-fuel-burning heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage, must have a functional carbon monoxide alarm installed within 10 feet of each sleeping room. (Fla. Stat. § 553.885)
The law was enacted shortly after a tragic incident involving carbon monoxide took place at a large hotel in Key West, Florida. In this unfortunate event, a young man and his father were discovered unconscious in their hotel room, which shared a wall with the hotel’s boiler room. Subsequent investigations conducted by authorities and various agencies revealed that the boiler had been operated without the necessary permits and had not undergone inspection despite several in-house repairs. The young man succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, and his father survived.
Ira H. Leesfield and Thomas Scolaro represented over a dozen guests who were exposed to carbon monoxide and who sustained permanent injuries. Among them was a victim visiting from Iowa whose claim resolved for seven figures.
Carbon Monoxide Legal Obstacles Require Experienced Attorney
There are many legal questions to resolve when handling a carbon monoxide poisoning case that happened in a foreign country. Among them, two fundamental issues will significantly impact the case: Where will the case have to be filed and which law will be applied in the case.
- Jurisdiction: Determining which jurisdiction has the authority to hear the case can be complex. Generally, courts in Florida have jurisdiction over incidents that occur within their geographical boundaries. The doctrine of forum non conveniens pertains to the determination of which court or jurisdiction is the most appropriate and convenient for the litigation to take place, considering factors such as convenience of the parties, availability of evidence, local interest, and judicial efficiency. Asserting jurisdiction over a foreign resort is crucial for several reasons:
- More Favorable Legal Standards and Remedies: Almost inevitably the American legal system offers more favorable legal standards and remedies compared to a foreign jurisdiction;
- Strong Consumer Protection Laws: The United States have robust consumer protection laws and regulations in place to safeguard the rights and interests of individuals. These laws provide additional avenues for seeking compensation and holding negligent parties accountable;
- Potential for Higher Damages: If successful, an injured client will have a greater chance of obtaining higher damages. This can be especially important if the injuries sustained in the incident have resulted in a wrongful death;
- Procedural and Evidentiary Advantages: The American legal system offers procedural and evidentiary advantages that benefit the client’s case such as rules regarding the admission of evidence or the discovery processes which includes the ability to depose employees of the targeted Defendant.
- Choice of Law: When an incident occurs in another country, the laws of that country typically govern the legal rights and remedies available to the injured party. Determining which country’s laws apply can significantly impact the case including higher damages; more favorable liability laws and standards; established legal precedents for personal injury claims; availability of skilled personal injury attorneys; and procedural efficiency for quicker resolution of the case.
Throughout its 47-year history, including in the very recent past, Leesfield Scolaro has successfully navigated these legal issues on behalf of injured clients and families. Thomas Scolaro and Adam Rose were the first to successfully bust the liability cap in a cruise case, securing a $5.5 million settlement for their clients. Last year, Adam Rose obtained a $95 million verdict on behalf of a family whose case had been turned down by other law firms. Justin Shapiro settled a negligent security case on behalf of a couple for $16 million in under 11 months.
If you or your loved one were involved in a carbon monoxide exposure incident, contact our firm by filling out the “contact us” form above or below, or call us at 1-800-836-6400.