Correction: In a previous version of this article, the San Juan County clerk’s office stated that a trial was anticipated for this lawsuit.
There will be no trial for this case as it was dismissed on May 30, by Judge Stewart Andrew, acting as a temporary superior court judge. A settlement was reached and the details are confidential.
By Mandi Johnson / The Journal of the San Juan Islands
Two wrongful death lawsuits filed after the carbon monoxide poisoning of Troy J. Sullivan and Kelli Ashcraft have been combined into one legal action.
According to San Juan County Clerk Lisa Henderson, a six-person jury trial was requested and a date has yet to be set for the court proceedings. The trial will be held in district court.
The lawsuits, filed in July and November of last year, are against Kelli’s parents Edward and Tami Lee Ashcraft, Jim’s Heating and Refrigeration and Inter-Island Propane for negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death.
Attorney Chris Davis of the Seattle-based Davis Law Group filed the first complaint on behalf of the Estate of Troy L. Sullivan on July 24, 2017. In November, attorneys Lincoln D. Sieler of Seattle-based law firm Friedman Rubin and Kevin Coluccio, also from Seattle, filed a complaint for damages on behalf of Thomas Ashcraft who is the personal representative of the Estate of Kelli Ashcraft and Brook Ashcraft who is the sister of Kelli. Thomas is their paternal uncle.
On April 4, 2017, Brook discovered Sullivan, 31, and Kelli, 22, dead in the bedroom of a home owned by Edward and Tami located outside of Friday Harbor. The combined lawsuit claims the deaths were caused by an improperly repaired heating system inside the residence.
According to the July 24 lawsuit, toxicology reports showed that the level of carbon monoxide in Sullivan’s blood was 71 percent carboxyhemoglobin saturation while the average adult human typically contains less than 3 to 5 percent.
In the lawsuit filed on Nov. 21, it said that on the morning of April 4, “Brook awoke with a throbbing headache, was dizzy and had great difficulty walking.” It stated that she called out for help with no response. When she went to find out why no one had answered her, she found Kelli and Sullivan unconscious. According to court documents, Brook called 911 and began to perform CPR. She had to be hospitalized due to her exposure to carbon monoxide. Kelli and Sullivan both died from the exposure.
The first lawsuit claimed that Edward, the homeowner, negligently repaired and modified the house’s heating system under the instruction of two Friday Harbor companies, Jim’s Heating and Refrigeration and Inter-Island Propane, LLC, both of which are owned and operated by Jimmie Lawson, II. It also stated: “The repairs and modifications did not satisfy local building safety codes and manufacturer standards.” The lawsuit said that the companies “knew about the negligence but took no action to protect occupants or guests of the home” and that the defendants’ acts and omissions caused the deaths.
Prior to April 4, Edward had installed an undersized plastic PVC vent pipe to the system’s exhaust outlet. The Sullivan lawsuit claimed that the PVC pipe later released lethal levels of carbon monoxide gas into the living spaces during the night while Brook, Kelli and Sullivan slept.