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Jan. 24--A local law firm has sued the motel where a woman was found unconscious last week in a room that was determined to have high levels of carbon monoxide gas in the breathing air.
The suit, filed Friday, Jan. 24, by Chad Inderman of the law firm of Glasheen, Valles & Inderman, accuses the owners of the Budget Motel, 805 34th St. of negligence and gross negligence that led to Latiesha Renee Ruth being overcome and lapsing into unconsciousness in her room Jan. 16.
A man in the room, 59-year-old Harold Rutherford, was found dead in the room when authorities entered the room the next day. Ruth was treated and transported to University Medical Center.
The Lubbock Fire Marshal ordered the motel closed until the heaters were repaired after inspectors found carbon monoxide present in other rooms.
The motel is owned by BTR Corp., which shares a business address with the property. Incorporation documents on file with the Texas Secretary of State's office list Haribhai Patel as the business' registered agent.
A man who spoke on the telephone at Patel's telephone number refused to identify himself and referred an A-J Media reporter to "my insurance agent."
The agent, Betty Skibell, said: "No comment."
According to the lawsuit, a hotel employee entered the room after repeated knocks on the door and telephone calls went unanswered.
Gas heating was used to warm the rooms at the motel, which, according to Lubbock Central Appraisal District records was built in 1955.
The suit alleges the owners were negligent in failing to inspect and maintain the gas heater in Ruth's room, failing to train employees to remedy the situation and failing to install carbon monoxide detectors in the motel's rooms.
Fire officials said there were no carbon monoxide detectors or smoke detectors in the room. Smoke detectors are legally required, but carbon monoxide detectors are not.
The lawsuit asks that damages in the case be determined at trial.
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