PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: Gillin, Jacobson, Ellis & Larsen, Orinda, by Luke Ellis and Ralph L. Jacobson


Plaintiffs in the subject action were two girls, aged 3 and 5. The lawsuit was brought by their mother and guardian ad litem, who was 29 years old. A fire occurred in plaintiffs’ apartment, in an apartment complex in Contra Costa County which had been recently purchased by defendants.

Plaintiffs contended that defendants failed to provide and install a working smoke detector in plaintiff’s unit; that as a result, a fire that was started by one of plaintiff mother’s other children, an 8-year-old boy, went undetected and raged out of control, injuring the minor plaintiffs.

It was further contended that the lack of a smoke detector was the cause of plaintiff minors’ injuries.

Defendants contended that they had recently purchased said apartment complex; that they believed that plaintiffs’ apartment contained a smoke detector; and that if it did not, it was plaintiff mother’s responsibility to notify new management.

It was further contended by defendants that the lack of a smoke detector in plaintiffs’ unit was not the cause of the injuries to plaintiff minors, since it would not have prevented or changed the injuries in any way; and that the fire was started by one of the mothers’ own children due to negligence.

INJURIES: The 3-year old daughter sustained second and third-degree burns over 25% of her body. The 5-year old daughter sustained second and third-degree burns over 50% of her body.

SPECIALS: Medical $107,288 for the 3-year-old and $274,304 for the 5-year-old.

RESULT: The case was settled at the close of evidence for Three Million Two Hundred And Fifty Thousand Dollars ($3,250,000.00).