Massachusetts town hall children poisoned by carbon monoxide

Citizens, regardless of age, should expect to feel safe in Massachusetts’ public buildings. Parents especially need to believe that they can safely take their children to public facilities without worrying about their well-being.

To avoid premises liability, managers tasked with building maintenance should be keenly aware of their duty to ensure the safety of everyone in the building. There are many factors outside of the control of staff and visitors but within the control of building management staff. These include the structural soundness of the premises, as well as maintenance of electrical, lighting and heating systems.

In Douglas, the town hall houses an education center attended by more than 70 children of kindergarten age. When emergency workers responded to a call midmorning, they sent numerous people to the hospital with symptoms of nausea and headaches. The complaints were identified as symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Dangerous levels of the poisonous gas were detected in the town hall building.

Medical responders decided to transport the worst-affected to the hospital for further evaluation. The remainder of the children were moved to a nearby school in order to have their health evaluated.

Officials believe that a faulty oil furnace may have caused the release of the dangerous gas into the air.

Tragedy was averted in this instance. However, although no one was killed by the leak, the children and adults were still poisoned by the gas. Their lives were put at risk, and it cannot be ruled out that there exists the possibility of after-effects and future complications arising.

A person whose health is threatened while on municipal property may be able to claim damage from the municipality. A lawsuit can request compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of wages and other costs that result from the situation.

Source: The Associated Press, “Several hospitalized after CO leak in Douglas,” March 17, 2014