Suit claims defective refrigerator caused fatal fire in Nacogdoches

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Nov. 3, 2010, 4:47pm

MARSHALL-A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in federal court that accuses the makers of a refrigerator of failing to warn a Nacogdoches family about the risks of the unit failing and igniting a fire.

Hermilo Martinez Buenaventura, individually and as representative of the estate of Gelacia Marias Roman, deceased; and Cira Marias Roman, individually and as representative of the estates of Maria Isabel Robels Marias, Lesley Oyuki Clemente Robles and Genning Roumualdo Clemente Robles, deceased; filed suit against Whirlpool Corp., KitchenAid Inc. and KitchenAid Delaware Inc. on Oct. 19 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

According to the lawsuit, a fire occurred on Oct. 22, 2009, at a home in Nacogdoches that killed four occupants. The plaintiff Hermilo Martinez Bueanaventura was at work at the time of the fire and returned home to find the four individuals had perished.

The lawsuit states the Nacogdoches Fire Marshall's office concluded that the fire began in and around the lower backside of the refrigerator at a low point at or in the refrigerator compressor system and spread up the wall and through the kitchen and living area. The Fire Marshall's office states that at some point the occupants moved to the back room and became trapped.

The defendants are accused of manufacturing an unreasonably dangerous and defective refrigerator which caused the fatal fire, negligently failing to use ordinary care to protect the general public, negligently failed to warn or give adequate notice of the tendency of the refrigerator unit to fail and knowing that the unit would fail and ignite.

Causes of action filed against the defendant include negligence, failure to warn, breach of implied warranty and express warranty, strict liability and gross negligence.

The lawsuit seeks wrongful death damages for loss of care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel and pecuniary contributions, mental anguish, loss of companionship and society, loss of inheritance and exemplary damages.

The plaintiffs are seeking survival damages for physical pain and mental anguish, funeral and burial expenses and exemplary damages, plus interest.

The plaintiffs are represented by Blake C. Erskine of Erskine & McMahon LLP in Longview and Mark B. Blackburn and Blake C. Erskine Jr. of Erskine & Blackburn in Austin.

Jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10-cv-00444

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