Parties Closing In On CO Settlement

OCEAN CITY – The $30 million wrongful death lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this year by the family of two Pennsylvania tourists who perished from carbon monoxide poisoning in a Boardwalk motel room in June 2006 appears to be close to a settlement this week, according to a memorandum to the many parties involved from a federal judge handling the case.

A settlement conference was held on Tuesday, during which the parties apparently got close to reaching an agreement in the case. On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey sent a memorandum to all of the attorneys on both sides in the case stating while no settlement was reached on Tuesday, it now appears a protracted trial would be avoided.

“While we were not able to settle yesterday, I believe that the conference was productive and hopefully will lead to a settlement in the near future,” Gauvey wrote in the memo to the attorneys for the plaintiffs and the many defendants.

The memorandum references a telephone conference call related to settlement with Bayshore Development and All About Plumbing set for Aug. 1 and advises the attorneys of the parties to contact her with any new developments in the case on July 31.

“I hope the defendants will then be in a position to make a further offer of settlement,” the memo concludes.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in February, names as defendants the Bay Shore Development Corp., the owner of the Days Inn Hotel on 22nd Street in Ocean City where the tragedy occurred; Heat Transfer Products, Inc., the manufacturer of the faulty water deemed as the source of the CO leak; R.E. Michel Co. Inc., the Glen Burnie-based company that distributed the water heater; and All About Plumbing, the local company that purchased and installed the water heater at the Boardwalk hotel.

The 24-count federal suit is seeking a combined $30 million from the defendants, citing negligence, breach of warranty and strict liability in the deaths of Patrick J. Boughter and his daughter, Kelly M. Boughter, both of Lebanon, Pa., who died of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning while staying at the Days Inn Hotel in Ocean City on June 27, 2006. The suit is also seeking personal injury damages for the surviving members of the family, Yvonne and Morgan Boughter, who were also in the hotel room and suffered from exposure to CO.

In the months since the suit was first filed in February, each of the defendants named have filed motions for dismissal and almost every defendant has filed cross-claims against the various co-defendants involved in the case. It is uncertain if the settlement referenced by Gauvey this week would include all of those cross-claims.