Case details

Resident claimed exceedingly hot water caused burns




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

breasts, chest, chest wall, dominant, pain, right, right arm, upper extremity
On March 28, 2013, plaintiff Deborah Lenard, 52, a certified nursing assistant, completed her shift and stopped at a pharmacy on her way home to picked up prescriptions for Valium and Soma. Some four hours after arriving home on Maybelle Avenue, in Oakland, she was found on her bathroom floor, unconscious, with water from the bathroom sink overflowing onto the floor. Oakland Fire Department and paramedics responded, and took Lenard by ambulance to Highland Hospital, in Oakland. Lenard had no recollection as to what had occurred, but it was determined that she had sustained burns to 15 percent of her body, including to her right arm and chest. Lenard sued the owner of Lenard’s Oakland fourplex, Shiming Wang, and the property manager, Jack Liu. Lenard alleged that Wang and Liu were negligent in the maintenance of the property’s water heater, creating a dangerous condition. Ting Qiao, Lili Qiao, and Xhiwei Liu were also initially named as defendants, but they were ultimately dismissed from the case early on. Plaintiff’s counsel asserted that the temperature of the hot water delivered through the faucets in Lenard’s apartment exceeded safe levels. Counsel contended that the temperature dial on the water heater supplying hot water to the units in Lenard’s building was set to “Very Hot,” the maximum setting, and that six weeks post-incident, the temperature readings indicated that the hot water delivered to Lenard’s unit exceeded 145-degrees Fahrenheit. Plaintiff’s counsel asserted that water at those temperatures produce 2nd- and 3rd-degree scalding within approximately two to three seconds. Counsel for Wang and Jack Liu contended that the Oakland Fire Department found nine Soma pills missing from the pill container, implying that Lenard had ingested the nine pills and passed out. Thus, counsel asserted that Lenard was under the influence of medication that she had obtained earlier that day and had overdosed on the Soma and Valium. Counsel further asserted that since Lenard was alone in her apartment at the time and had no recollection as to how her were sustained, Lenard was unable to establish that her were sustained from excessive water temperatures., Lenard sustained third-degree burns to 15 percent of her body’s surface area, including her right, dominant, upper extremity; both breasts; and chest wall. All burns were deep, partial and/or full thickness. Lenard was subsequently taken to the emergency room at Highland Hospital, in Oakland, and transferred to the burn unit at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, in San Francisco, for further treatment. During the month that Lenard was in the burn unit, she underwent burn wound surgical preparation and application of a porcine xenograft (pig skin) on April 3, 2013; surgical preparation of burns and autograft to the right, upper extremity (skin grafting); and surgical preparation of burns and autograft to the breasts and chest wall on April 17, 2013. Donor sites were from her thighs and back. On April 30, 2013, Lenard was transferred to Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco Medical Center, in South San Francisco, for further burn management and wound care. From there, she was a patient at Kaiser’s Extended Care facility while she underwent wound care and occupational therapy/physical therapy for one month. Lenard claimed that she has permanent scarring on her right, dominant arm and right chest. However, she does not have any motion issues. Lenard further claimed that she had to take off of work from her position as a certified nursing assistant at Fairmont Hospital for 11 months as a result of her and treatment. Thus, Lenard sought recovery of past medical costs, which were billed at $944,773, but of which only $589,373 was actually paid. She also sought recovery of $46,600 in lost wages and recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering.
Superior Court of Alameda County, Oakland, CA

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