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Alarm Company sued for wrongful death in fire for faulty smoke detector  
March 26, 2021
Alarm Company sued for wrongful death in fire for faulty smoke detector
            You need to read this case in its entirety at Alarm Law Issues / Leading Cases / Ohio.  The United States District Court Judge really nailed the law on all points; too many to try and condense.  Case is Kahl v Specturm.
            In a nut shell Heather Kahl went out to a bar, got drunk, went home, there was a fire and she died of smoke inhalation.  Her family sued the alarm company because only one smoke detector was installed in the house.  I'll credit the Plaintiff's attorney because they really came up with all the arguments to seek liability, from breach of contract, negligence, gross negligence, product liability, violation of statutes and consumer protection laws.  All were rejected by the Judge who eventually got around to holding that regardless of all the other reasons the complaint was being dismissed the contract had an enforceable exculpatory clause and limitation of liability clause.
            Here a few excerpts from the decision regarding the facts: 
            "In 2003, the Kahls purchased the two-bedroom, single story, 844-square-foot house at 777 Abbott Drive in Mansfield, Ohio, where the family lived until the fire. Before they purchased a TWC IntelligentHome system, there was a single smoke detector in the main level center hallway of the home and one in the basement. Kahl removed the basement smoke detector in 2005–06 during remodeling and it was never replaced. ..
            In 2013, Heather decided to switch the Kahls’ home security system from ADT to TWC, as they had already subscribed to cable TV through TWC since 2003 and Heather wanted to bundle all their services. After consulting with Kahl, Heather chose TWC’s IntelligentHome product. TWC employee Michael Blaney (“Blaney”) installed it on October 31, 2013. Heather was home at the time, but Kahl was not.  Kahl testified that the smoke detector was installed on the ceiling in the same center hallway of the home where the original smoke detector had been. He also noted that Blaney had removed the original smoke detector and installed the TWC detector in its place...
            IntelligentHome was a wireless system consisting of a control unit (in the form of a touchscreen), a modem, a motion detector, three door/window sensors, and one free smoke detector. Additional smoke detectors were available for purchase but, according to Blaney, most customers declined the offer. (Blaney Dep. at 318 (58).) Blaney testified that, if a home did not have a primary smoke detection system, he would not install the free smoke detector because it was intended to be only secondary protection. Although Blaney does not remember whether the Kahl residence had a smoke detector, he assumes it had at least one since he installed the free one that was part of the package...."
            Read the decision and let me know if you need any further explanation.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301