Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Brain Injury Case Settled at Trial

After six days of trial in Denver County District Court, Colorado, for a young woman who suffered a brain injury as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, Spence partners Bryan Ulmer and Tyson Logan successfully settled the brain injury personal injury claims against the defendant property owner and his company. The confidential settlement came while the jury was deliberating over a damages verdict. In his closing argument, Ulmer had argued that proper compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries was $10 million.

The case stemmed from a CO leak at a vacation rental house that sent 23 people to the emergency room in Vail, Colorado. On the night of January 1, 2014, a 16-year-old girl was poisoned by carbon monoxide gas as she slept in a short-term rental home. The rental home had a faulty gas boiler and ventilation system that caused dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to be released into the home. Colorado law mandates that residential rental properties be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. The Spence Firm brought negligence claims against the property owner.

Two weeks before trial, after more than a year of litigation, the defendants admitted liability. The property owner and his company admitted that they were negligent because they failed to provide CO detectors to protect the renters at the home. As a result, no alarms sounded when the house filled with CO on the night of the incident.

After admitting liability, a 6-day jury trial followed focused entirely on the extent of Ms. Leise’s injuries. The team of Spence lawyers retained leading expert doctors in the fields of carbon monoxide poisoning, safety and mechanical engineering, neurology, neuropsychology, neuro-imaging, and vocational rehabilitation and economics to evaluate the case and testify about the resulting damages. These doctors and experts testified that because of the carbon monoxide exposure, Ms. Leise suffered a permanent brain injury. As a result, she suffered cognitive deficits, depression, and PTSD, all common sequelae from CO poisoning. The defense lawyers argued that the plaintiff was malingering and that she suffered no permanent damages from the poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and lethal gas that causes cellular death and injury when it enters the bloodstream.

In his final rebuttal argument to the jury before deliberations, Logan argued that “the defendants just don’t get it… they don’t get that they took Ms. Leise’s future away… and this is an opportunity for you, as jurors, to help her get her future back.”

During jury deliberations the case was successfully settled for a confidential amount. The case was filed in Denver County District Court, with the Honorable Eric Elliff presiding. The case number is 2016-CV-032197.

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