Carbon Monoxide Death Case Results in Family’s High-Dollar Settlement

A boy from Rock Hill, SC, died in 2013 due to carbon monoxide poisoning after staying at a Best Western motel in Boone, NC. Located 100 miles north of Charlotte, NC, the boy and his mother had stopped for the night at the motel, resulting in the boy’s death, and in serious injury occurring to the mother. The boy, Jefferey Williams, died due to leaking carbon monoxide that was coming from the motel’s swimming pool heating system. The mother, Jeannie Williams, suffered serious injuries also due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Six weeks previously, Shirley and Daryl Jenkins, of Washington State, had died in the exact same room. However, at the time of that incident, officials were unable to locate carbon monoxide poisoning as the cause of their deaths. The Williams family filed wrongful death and injury lawsuits against Best Western and other parties involved and agreed to settle the suit for a sum of $12 million. The Jenkins family also filed lawsuits, which their attorney has said was settled for a considerable amount of money. The manager of the Best Western at the time, Damon Mallatere, also faced manslaughter charges, but those charges have since been dismissed. Instead, his management company plead guilty to three counts of manslaughter. In January 2018, Mallatere filed a lawsuit against the city of Boone for malicious prosecution. Mallatere claims he has not been able to find a job since the manslaughter charges were filed against him.

Since the incident, the Williams family has founded the Jeffery Lee Williams Foundation, which works to raise carbon monoxide safety awareness. The North Carolina General Assembly created a law that is designed to help prevent carbon monoxide tragedies, making it a requirement for hotels, motels, and other lodgings to install carbon monoxide alarms near possible sources of carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, furnaces that burn fossil fuels, and other appliances.

Best Western has since ordered that carbon monoxide alarms be placed in all rooms. They also replaced the pool heater, which burned natural gas, with an electric one. Due to the state medical examiner’s skipping important deaths during suspicious deaths cases, North Carolina has since doubled their pay and instated mandatory training to rectify the issue.