Faulty Air Cleaning System Not Cause of Harm to Lungs

Posted by msch on Jun 6, 2011 8:44:00 PM

Joseph White, a 62-year-old man who had been diagnosed in 1999 with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring or thickening of the lungs, hired Toll Brothers to construct his home. Toll Brothers hired B&L Air Conditioning to install a state-of-the-art air cleaning system in the house. White’s condition progressed over the years, eventually requiring a lung transplant.

The plaintiff brought this suit against B&L Air Conditioning in 2003, arguing that negligent construction, including the failure to properly install filters on the intake ducts, caused particulate accumulation inside the system that aggravated Mr. White's preexisting lung disease, and not only led to his requiring a lung transplant earlier than might otherwise have been expected but also shortened his life.

Tim Wright (Wright, Ponsoldt, and Lozeau), attorney for the plaintiff, argued that the defendants made multiple mistakes at several different stages of the installation of the air conditioning system, including some that directly impacted and exacerbated White’s existing lung condition. “Within a few short days of moving in, he had a drastic problem with his idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, that caused him to require the oxygen tubes that you see people using,” Wright said. “The evidence will show that from the time he moved into that house, he could not breathe unless he was on the oxygen when he was in the house.”
Defense attorney Lyman Reynolds (Roberts, Reynolds, Bedard & Tuzzio, P.A.) argued that the evidence failed to show any direct connection between the installation of the air conditioning unit and the progression of the existing disease, noting that all the experts agreed that White’s lung condition was expected to progress as time went on.  “There is no evidence of an aggravation associated with this single event,” he said.

The jury found in favor of the defense.

Topics: Negligence, Construction