N.J. propane company denies poisoning blame
By Emma Breysse, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: February 8, 2013
A New Jersey propane company denies that any action of its staff caused three Teton County families’ carbon monoxide poisoning.
In court papers, Suburban Propane LC, said the families, who sued the company for negligence, are more responsible for their injuries than company staff.
“If plaintiffs were injured as alleged in the complaint, each plaintiff’s own negligence, fault or carelessness equaled or exceeded the alleged negligence, fault or carelessness of all other actors,” wrote Jackson lawyer Matthew Turner.
Scott and Barbara Smith own a home north of Jackson, according to their original lawsuit. They, along with 15 other defendants, filed suit in 9th District Court in December claiming Suburban Propane’s negligence when hooking up a propane tank to their home’s heating system directly led to their carbon monoxide poisoning in 2010.
In its Jan. 30 response, Suburban Propane denied all of the Smiths’ allegations.
“Defendant denies all allegations that it was negligent or engaged in wrongful conduct and further denies plaintiffs’ claims for personal injuries,” Turner wrote.
Later in the document, Suburban denies that company workers connected the propane tank in question.
The response also denies a claim in the original suit, that Suburban employees approved the Smiths’ heating system for use.
The Smiths and two other families, the Blacks and the Lindquists, claimed that Suburban employees inspected the heating system and connected it to a propane tank. The heating system was not configured for propane, according to the original lawsuit filing.
Even though Suburban’s employees “knew or should have known” that, they hooked up the tank and approved the system for use, the suit claims.
But Suburban further argues that the three families can’t recover any money because the Whippany, New Jersey-based firm hasn’t broken any laws or regulations about delivering propane.
The response asks that Judge Timothy Day dismiss the lawsuit and order the Smiths, Blacks and Lindquists to pay the company’s legal fees and court costs.