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Vice mayor sues Kingman

Spear says city’s failure to inspect Kings Inn addition played key role in woman’s death

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br>
Vice Mayor Tom Spear owns the Best Western Kings Inn, located in the 2900 block of E. Andy Devine Avenue. Spear is suing the city for failing to inspect an addition to the hotel in 1997.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br> Vice Mayor Tom Spear owns the Best Western Kings Inn, located in the 2900 block of E. Andy Devine Avenue. Spear is suing the city for failing to inspect an addition to the hotel in 1997.

KINGMAN – Vice Mayor Tom Spear filed a lawsuit on Feb. 9, which includes among several defendants, the city of Kingman. Spear’s suit is a response to a lawsuit naming him and his Kings Inn hotel as partly responsible for the death of a woman from carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to court documents, Sharmalee Ann Johnson, 22, of Kingman died Feb. 14, 2004 in the bathtub in room 240 of the Best Western Kings Inn from carbon monoxide that had seeped in from the boiler room located directly below her. Her boyfriend, Frederick Herzer, now 25, of Kingman was also in the room. He survived but suffers from permanent brain damage caused by carbon monoxide, according to the documents.

Room 240 and the boiler room were part of an addition completed in 1997. Contractors that worked on the addition were also named by the families of Johnson and Herzer in the original lawsuit.

In his initial statement, Spear alleges former City Building Official George Lutz, Jr. and other department employees failed to regularly inspect all phases of construction of the Kings Inn addition.

Spear also alleged that the boiler was never physically inspected by the state boiler inspector or by the city of Kingman. However, Spear claims all design plans were passed by both the city and state.

The original lawsuit brought by the families of the two victims charges Kings Inn, Inc., Lochinvar Corporation, Cedar Creek Development, Inc., architect Joan Dilley, mechanical engineer George Timmerman, and contractors Samons Air Conditioning, Inc., Roundy-Walker, Inc., and Shoreline Plumbing Sales and Service, Inc., which has changed its name to Skyline Plumbing.

Lochinvar Corporation is the manufacturer of the boiler. The families’ disclosures claim the company did not provide sufficient warning and labeling on the product or adequate instruction for its installation and maintenance.

Skyline Plumbing installed the jacuzzi in the bathroom of room 240 and according to the families, “failed to properly caulk or otherwise seal the holes, which they made for the piping creating a common airspace between room 240 and the boiler room.”

The remaining contractors named by the families were included in the lawsuit “for direct and proximate cause of any and all negligent conduct or acts” leading to Johnson’s death and Herzer’s injuries.

In Spear’s counter suit, he names the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health and its inspectors Robert Bartlett and Phillip Axelrod, and contractors Don Jack O’Banion, Trinity Lath and Plastering, Inc., and Kevin James MacGregor along with Lutz and the city as responsible for the inspection of the faulty boiler and boiler room.

Spear and Kings Inn allege that contractors Trinity, O’Banion and MacGregor recklessly, carelessly and negligently constructed the modifications to room 240 between November 2003 and February 2004.

The court documents did not list damages sought by the families or Spear. The disclosure statements are only preliminary documents that state the defendants’ responses to the suits but are not manuscripts of court proceedings.

The case is being heard in Maricopa County Superior Court and is not expected to go to trial any sooner than January.