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

Andrea Rondeau column: Barnburners pack them in, otherwise, not so much

It always seems like the really exciting news happens just after our print deadline.

Sarah Simpson column: Christmas baking with kids is not tidy

When I was younger — and I don’t want to give anything… Continue reading

Duncan Christian Chargers second at Cowichan Valley Classic

DCS and Shawnigan Lake School team up to host junior boys basketball tournament

T.W. Paterson column: The joys of Christmases past

People didn’t decorate the exterior of their homes in those days

High winds knock out power to thousands in Cowichan Valley

Most of the outages were relatively brief

VIDEO: Cobble Hill welcomes Christmas with frolicsome show

From lovely carols to humorous skits: a big crowd enjoyed it all on Sunday, Dec. 9

Coming up in Cowichan: Celebrate the second floor with the HUB

Celebrate the second floor this weekend at HUB at Cowichan Station Dec.… Continue reading

Crossword puzzle clues Dec. 14

Oops. Attention all crossword puzzle fans: the clues in the Friday, Dec.… Continue reading

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

‘I practically begged’: Kootenay woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

Most Read