Wrongful death suit alleges floor buffer caused carbon monoxide death

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 4, 2007, 6:12am

Floor Blazer buffer with Honda propane engine

MARSHALL – Annie Harper, the wife of Archie Ray Harper, believes her husband's death was a result of a defective and unreasonably dangerous floor buffer.

On behalf of her three children and herself, she filed suit in the Marshall division of the Eastern District of Texas against OPC/Floor Blazer and American Honda Motor Company on Aug. 30.

In late January, while Archie was working as a technician for Servicemaster Professional Building Maintenance, he was sent to Bearing Service of Longview to clean the floors. Archie used a propane powered floor buffer, specifically a Floor Blazer Model SV-20, which had a Honda GXV LPG (liquid propane gas) engine.

After Archie started his work , "he became overwhelmed by carbon monoxide gas and was rendered unconscious." The complaint continues stating "the LPG engine on the product [floor buffer] continued to run for several hours and emit the deadly carbon monoxide gas which led to the untimely and tragic death of Archie Harper."

The Honda propane engine owner's manual states that the "engine exhaust contains poisonous carbon monoxide. Do not run the engine without adequate ventilation, and never run the engine indoors." Further, the manual states under operating precautions, "carbon monoxide gas is toxic. Breathing it can cause unconsciousness and even kill you. Avoid any areas or actions that expose you to carbon monoxide."

The Harper family alleges that the engine was not equipped with proper safety equipment, which caused Harper's death.

Causes of action filed against defendants, OPC/Floor Blazer and American Honda Motor Company, include negligence, breach of warranty, strict products liability and violations under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Filing under the Texas Wrongful Death statute, plaintiffs are seeking damages for pecuniary losses, loss of companionship and society, mental anguish, loss of inheritance, funeral and burial expenses and attorney's fees. Survival damages sought include mental anguish, physical pain, funeral, and burial expenses.

Plaintiff's attorney, John (Jack) Walker, III of the law firm Martin and Walker from Tyler is requesting trial by jury. Judge John Ward will preside.

Currently, defendants have not filed a response to the allegations.

Case No.: 2:07cv00380

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