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7:26 AM Fri, Dec. 14th

Case against Kings Inn in discovery phase

KINGMAN - A civil suit involving the city of Kingman and the Kings Inn in Kingman has entered the discovery phase, according to court records. City Councilman Tom Spear is the owner of the hotel. The case is being tried in the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County.

In the discovery phase of the trial both the plaintiffs and the defendants must reveal what evidence they have to the court.

The trial date for the case has been set for Sept. 4, 2007.

The case involves a carbon monoxide poisoning accident on Feb. 14, 2004 at the Kings Inn on Andy Devine Avenue. Sharmalee Johnson, 22, of Kingman died, and Fredrick Herzer, 25, of Kingman suffered serious brain damage when carbon monoxide leaked into their room from a faulty boiler.

According to court records, on Sept. 8 the court granted George Timmerman's request for summary judgment on the grounds that Herzer's attorney did not object to the motion.

However, the court denied the motion in regards to Spear's claim against Timmerman.

Court records also show on Aug. 1 Spear voluntarily dismissed his claim against George Lutz, the former building inspector for Kingman.

Spear said he was unaware of any new developments in the case. An attorney hired by the corporate office of the Best Western - Kings Inn, is handling the suit, he said. In April a question was raised over weather Spear had applied for a building permit for the alterations to the room where the incident occurred.

The hotel extended the roof over the balcony to the room, added two support pillars and remodeled the interior of the room between November 2003 and February 2004.

During the interior remodeling, a hole was cut in the ceiling of the boiler room below to accommodate plumbing for the bath in the room. The hole was not sealed according to code and may have provided a path for carbon monoxide to leak into the room. No record of a permit could be found at the City Building Department for the improvements at that time.

Spear said he was not aware at that time that a building permit was needed for the small project. Spear applied for and received a permit for the improvements on Dec. 17, 2004. He was not charged any penalties for the late permit.

In June of 2005, Herzer and his family filed a civil suit against the Kings Inn, Inc.; Lochinvar, the manufacture of the boiler; Cedar Creek Development, Inc., the construction company that made the improvements to the hotel; Joan Dilley, the architect of the improvements; George Timmerman, the engineer of the improvements; Samons Air Conditioning, Inc., which installed the boiler; Roundy Walker, Inc., the owner of Advantage Heating/Air Conditioning and Skyline Plumbing Contractors, which did the plumbing work for the bathroom.

Herzer's attorney, Charles Dyer, charged the Kings Inn, Inc. and the other parties in the suit with negligence involving the installation and maintenance of the boiler and the construction of the addition to the hotel.

Spear, the owner of the Kings Inn, in turn charged the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health; the city of Kingman; and George Lutz, the former city building inspector, with failing to properly inspect and report violations of the city's building code involving the improvements to the Kings Inn.

Spear also charged two contractors with failure to property install the improvements to city code.