$1,750,000 Verdict in Hammond, Indiana When Child Dies in Fire, Landlord Failed to Provide Adequate Smoke Detectors
A young four-year-old child died in a morning house fire where the landlord failed to provide adequate working smoke detectors in the rented house. The family had been living in a rented house for a few weeks.
The landlord's defense team alleged the house fire was caused by negligent cooking, but there was no evidence to support the allegation. The defense team also alleged that adequate smoke detectors had been supplied.
It was difficult to disprove this allegation because the Indiana Insurance Company adjusters and investigators had traveled to the house a few days after the fire and absconded with all the appliances and smoke detectors.
But, what could be done with that?
We decided to investigate forensically further. On the battery (and on each battery) was a series of numbers with a UL logo.
The battery was sent to Underwriters' Laboratories where it was determined to be over 10 years old. The landlord had supplied smoke detectors that didn't work.
The jury found for the mother of the deceased child and awarded damages of $1.75M, making it the record largest individual verdict in the State of Indiana versus a single landlord at that time.
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