Two Carbon Monoxide Deaths Investigated in Berkeley


Two Carbon Monoxide Deaths Investigated in Berkeley

I’m Ed Smith, a Berkeley wrongful death lawyer. A lawsuit has been filed in connection with the deaths of a couple due to intoxication by acute carbon monoxide poisoning. The deceased couple, along with the bodies of their two pet cats, were found on January 23, upstairs in their rented apartment. I want to extend my sympathy to the family and friends of this young couple.

What Happened

Roger Morash and his wife, Valerie Morash, ages 35 and 32, were discovered dead early on Monday afternoon of the 23rd and were believed to have died a day earlier. The lawsuit, filed against the property’s owners by the mother of the deceased man, Susan Hanna, alleges that the accidental deaths would not have occurred if the owners had installed a detector for carbon monoxide in addition to the detector installed on the first floor of the apartment.

Testing for Carbon Monoxide

An investigator from a consulting firm on engineering was brought to the apartment to test for carbon monoxide and conducted various tests. He found no leakage of carbon monoxide in the gas systems in the home and detected no reason carbon monoxide would have built up inside. He recommended installing detectors for carbon monoxide in all the units at the property and testing a laser cutter owned by the couple for the presence of carbon monoxide or toxic gases. In addition, the couple owned a 3D printer. However, a family friend stated that neither was in operation during the period the couple died. An attorney for Hanna stated that detectors for carbon monoxide were necessary for a building to be well-maintained, and the presence of one in the couple’s upstairs rooms might have prevented their deaths.

Detecting the Presence of Carbon Monoxide

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, and symptoms of poisoning are similar to those of the flu. As a preventive measure, the CDC recommends, in part, installing a carbon monoxide detector that sounds an alarm and shows a digital readout of the carbon monoxide level.

California State Law SB 183

Under SB 183, California lawmakers made it mandatory that owners of buildings where fossil fuel is used, have an garage attached to the building or a fireplace and are used for residential occupancy must install carbon monoxide detectors. The detectors must be approved for the purpose by the state’s fire marshal.

The law includes both owner and renter occupancy. When a new owner or renter inhabits the building, the previous owner must make sure the carbon dioxide detector is operational. If the device fails to work after a renter occupies the building, it must be reported to the owner for maintenance or replacement.

An owner can be fined if carbon monoxide detectors are not installed or are not operational. The amount of the fine at the time of this report is $200 for each individual violation.

Wrongful Death

Those who have lost a loved one due to negligence may be able to file a wrongful death claim  to recover damages. Although this will not atone for the loss of someone dear to you, it does punish the wrongdoer and may keep this negligence from occurring again. Damages that may be recovered include loss of future income, loss of consortium, loss of inheritance, funeral and burial costs, loss of a parent’s contribution to the family and loss of household services.


Attorney Ed Smith

Berkeley Wrongful Death Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Berkeley wrongful death lawyer. Deaths due to negligence can be devastating and impact a family for years. For friendly and free advice, call me locally at (707) 564-1900. The toll-free number is (800) 404-5400.

I have over 35 years of experience as a personal injurypremises liability and wrongful death lawyer for Berkeley and the surrounding area.

I belong to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. This group has members who have $1 million dollar and multimillion dollar settlements and verdicts.

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