NY Law Requires Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Restaurants and Commercial Buildings

In February of last year, Steven Nelson, who managed a Long Island seafood restaurant, died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Nelson was one of dozens of unsuspecting people who were exposed to the lethal but odorless gas, thanks to a defective water heater pipe in the restaurant’s basement. The CO leak affected at least thirty others – some staff and some rescue workers – who became ill after inhaling the gas.

The avoidable tragedy at Legal Sea Foods restaurant in the Walt Whitman Shops sparked not only an increased awareness about the lack of CO detectors in New York’s commercial buildings, it may likely trigger some victims to pursue legal compensation. Damages awarded in a Long Island carbon monoxide lawsuit could ease financial hardships of those who suffered, while offering some measure of justice.

Perhaps the only positive outcome from the terrible incident is new legislation that will require all restaurants and mixed use commercial buildings throughout New York State to install carbon monoxide detectors. The attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye applaud such measures and sincerely hope that the new law will help prevent such avoidable deaths and personal injury in the future.

CO detectors now law for NY state restaurants

The bill, which was passed by both houses of the legislature on June 18, 2014, will amend the state’s Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code to call for the installation and maintenance of working CO detectors in all restaurants and other commercial buildings in New York, though it excludes NYC.

At the end of December 2014, Governor Cuomo signed the Steve Nelson bill into law. Now restaurants and buildings used for commercial purposes have six months to comply.

Any failure to install or maintain a carbon monoxide detector can result in strict penalties, including:

  • Fines not exceeding more than a $1,000 per day of violation
  • OR imprisonment not exceeding 12 months
  • OR both

Under the newly amended N.Y. Executive Law Section 378, CO detectors are only required in cases where the commercial building or restaurant has appliances, devices or an attached garage that is capable of leaking the deadly gas.

Some common examples of such devices include: gas water heaters, propane stoves, diesel or gas powered generators, gas ovens and kerosene space heaters. However, restaurant and building owners are encouraged to have a site inspection of their property to accurately locate any potential carbon monoxide sources.

Toxic exposure lawyers Long Island

One of the troubling aspects of “mild cases” of carbon monoxide poisoning is that exposure leaves victims with symptoms that mimic the flu. Headaches, fatigue and nausea may be soon followed by more severe reactions, such as mental impairment, dizziness, shortness of breath, and loss of consciousness. Prolonged exposure can prove deadly, as was the case of 55-year old Steve Nelson.

If you or someone you care about has become ill as a result of a CO leak, your first priority is seeking prompt medical care. Your second course of action is seeking the guidance of personal injury lawyers Long Island has come to trust and respect. The legal team at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye offers free consultations to help you understand your rights under the law.

Don’t become a victim twice; protect your legal rights and call our NY office at 1-800-469-7429.