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Criminal Law Keyed to Weaver
State v. Brooks
Citation:163 Vt. 245, 658 A.2d 22 (1995)
Brooks had a home that was equipped with a driveway heater to melt the snow when it snowed. The exhaust fumes exited through the backside of the garage. While Brooks was gone another occupant and her daughter became ill from noxious gases. When Brooks returned they asked him to take them to a hospital, which Brooks did. Brooks called a plumbing and heating company which stated there was problems with the proper exhaust of the heater and said some repairs should be made and safety features added. An employee of the Vermont Gas Systems looked at the system and stated that the gas should remain off until the repairs are made. The heating employee called Brooks and told him that the heater had been improperly installed. A supervisor for the Vermont Gas Systems also called Brooks and told him the dangers of the condition the system was in and said it needed to be repaired.
Defendant later hired a real estate agent and did not mention the heater’s history and advised the agent to turn it on during tours for five minutes just to demonstrate it. The heater was also a major advertised feature of the house. On the second showing to the Cifarellis Brooks was present explained and demonstrated the heater and never mentioned the problems and the safety issues. Brooks told them after inspection that it was not necessary to run the heater for more than 2 hours.
The Cifarellis bought the house and one night while it was snowing they turned the heater on and went to bed upstairs, as did their two daughters. Csermak stayed up to watch TV, when he became nauseous and dizzy he vomited and then opened a window. Csermak eventually fell asleep on the downstairs couch. When Csermak awoke no one was up so he went to check on them and found that only the infant daughter was still breathing. Upon testing it was found that Linda John and their 4 year old daughter died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of the driveway heater.
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