The family of Jeffrey WIlliams has reached a $12 million settlement against Best Western and other parties, according to reports. Williams, an 11-year-old boy, was at the hotel when he died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2013 while at a Best Western in Boone, North Carolina.
Williams and his mother stopped at the hotel for the night in a room where another couple died just six weeks earlier.
The hotel’s swimming pool heating system was leaking carbon monoxide, which killed Jeffrey and left his mother with serious injuries. Less than two months before, Daryl and Shirley Jenkins died in the same room, although the cause of their deaths were unknown at the time.
Wrongful death lawsuits were filed by both families against the Best Western chain as well as the location’s owner, workers and companies responsible for the swimming pool’s system and the hotel’s former manager, Damon Mallatere.
Jeffrey’s mother claims that some of the settlement will be used to bring awareness to carbon monoxide poisoning. She is also calling for changes in laws with the hope that carbon monoxide detectors will be required in all hotel rooms.
Jeffrey’s mother claims that she misses her son every day.
Best Western has denied any responsibility for the deaths that occurred at the hotel. The hotel claims that their “heartfelt thoughts and prayers” are with the families and friends affected by the incidents.
The Jenkins family won a settlement against the hotel chain, but the details of the settlement remain undisclosed in accordance to the settlement agreement.
Authorities only discovered the presence of carbon monoxide in the room after Jeffrey was found dead in his bed. His mother was found unconscious on the bathroom floor, where she laid for over 14 hours before being discovered.
The Williams family was on their way to pick up Jeffrey’s sister from camp.
Mallatere was the only person found to take steps that might have prevented the second death from occurring at the hotel. Local medical examiners, town employees and even hotel management were all found to be responsible for neglect.
Mallatere was also found innocent of manslaughter charges in 2016 after the charges were dismissed. His former company pleaded guilty to all three accounts of manslaughter.
He has brought his own lawsuit against the city, claiming that the Town of Boone accused him of offenses he didn’t commit. Despite all charges against Mallatere being dismissed, he has been unable to find gainful employment in his field.
Best Western took action after the deaths, requiring all of the chain’s rooms to have carbon monoxide detectors installed.
The equipment at the center of the deaths was a natural gas pool heater that emits carbon monoxide. The hotel has since replaced the pool’s heater with an electric model that doesn’t emit carbon monoxide.
“As a personal representative, or the heir, of a decedent who is killed due to the negligence of another, you may be able to hold the at-fault person or company financially responsible through a wrongful death claim,” writes the George T. Bochanis Law Offices.
Reports suggest that medical examiners in the state often skip basic steps during investigations, which may have prevented Jeffrey’s death from occuring.