October 27, 2014 — A federal judge has upheld a $28.5 million jury award to a woman who was poisoned by carbon monoxide from a faulty furnace in her apartment in Casper, Wyoming, according to the Billings Gazette.
U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson reviewed the decision and rejected claims that the “runaway jury” awarded excessive damages based on evidence and witnesses that shouldn’t have been presented.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 23 year-old Amber Lompe. She awoke in her home at Sunridge Apartments on February 1, 2011 feeling dizzy and confused. She was barely able to walk.
The levels of carbon monoxide had soared to 500 parts per million, more than 10-times the safe limit. Her attorneys say if she had waited another 15 minutes to get out of the apartment, she would have lost consciousness and died within an hour.
Although Lompe escaped with her life, the poisoning caused a permanent brain damage that affects her memory, concentration, processing speed, attention, and multi-tasking. She also has chronic headaches and sleep problems that make it harder to continue taking college classes or working.
Her lawyers accused the owners of Utah-based Sunridge Apartments and Apartment Management Consultants of failing to repair or replace the 30 year-old furnace, though they knew it was broken.
Ten days after the incident, Lompe was provided with a working carbon monoxide detector and the furnace was destroyed. Attorneys for Lompe say this was an attempt to destroy evidence, fearing a lawsuit.
It is not the only massive carbon monoxide award in recent years. In 2010, a jury in Baltimore awarded $34 million to 20 restaurant workers who were injured by a carbon monoxide leak. According to the Daily Record, the incident occurred in February 2008 at Ruth’s Chris Steak House at the Pier 5 Hotel. Firefighters who responded detected carbon monoxide levels of nearly 700 parts per million.