(Editor’s note, this letter is in response to the article “Wrongful death lawsuit filed in carbon monoxide poisoning case,” in the Aug. 2 edition of the Journal.)
Ms. Higginson makes several false and/or misleading statements about the facts of this case. I want to set the record straight, and let the people of San Juan County know that the case against Jimmie Lawson’s companies is strong, compelling and meritorious.
First, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office did not rule out culpability on the part of Jim’s Heating. The sheriff’s office only ruled out criminal activity. Criminal conduct is defined as intentional conduct. No one, including the Sullivan family, is alleging that the deaths of Troy Sullivan and Kelly Ashcraft were intentional. The lawsuit does, however, allege that the deaths were caused by the careless and grossly negligent conduct of the defendants, including those committed by Jim’s Heating and its employees.
Second, Ms. Higginson falsely alleges that my office did not conduct a “proper investigation.” We contacted a heating expert from Michigan and a local San Juan County mechanical contractor to review this case. These are the same experts that were consulted by the sheriff’s office as part of its criminal investigation. Both experts state that Jim’s Heating was negligent by advising Mr. Ashcraft that he could use PVC pipe on the boiler, and by failing to “red tag” or shut down the system when the company knew or should have known that PVC pipe installed on the boiler created a dangerous condition on the property.
My office also consulted with a Seattle mechanical heating contractor. That expert also states that Jim’s Heating was negligent for advising or allowing Mr. Ashcraft to use PVC pipe on the boiler. The company should have known that installing PVC pipe on the exhaust assembly violated the local building code and manufacturer standards.
Finally, I’m very disappointed that Ms. Higginson attempts to defend her client by trying to portray this lawsuit as the act of an “out-of-town lawyer” taking advantage of a grieving family. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the Sullivan family is devastated over the loss of Troy, they want answers and accountability. This lawsuit is the next step in achieving that goal.
Attorney Chris Davis, of the Seattle-based Davis Law Group
Representing Troy Sullivan’s estate