Man Killed in Wheelchair Fire, Daughter Sues

Man Killed in Wheelchair Fire, Daughter Sues

The Daughter of 65-year-old stroke victim is suing the wheelchair’s manufacturer and distributor claiming the defective product caught fire and caused the man’s wrongful death. The Salinas woman is also suing over burns she sustained as she unsuccessfully tried to pull her father out of the flaming electric wheelchair.

The family of the wheelchair-bound man who died, John Robles Sr., is suing the wheelchair manufacturer, Pride Mobility, and its distributor, Golden State Medical Supply for negligence and wrongful death. The suit also names the owners of the Parkside Street apartment complex, claiming that they failed to install functioning smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the building.

The Robles family seeks unspecified damages.

The victim’s 44-year-old daughter, Virginia Robles, is also suing for emotional distress and personal injury, after watching her father burn alive. She seeks $2.4 million in damages.

According to the lawsuit, filed in Monterey County Superior Court, the fire was caused by an incorrect battery installed in the Pride Mobility Jet 10 electric wheelchair.

The Robles’ attorney, Tom Wills, claims Golden State Medical Supply, which was not warned of the danger by Pride Mobility, placed the lead acid battery in the wheelchair.

According to Wills, the company said it now warns of the possibility of “explosive gasses” in bold capital letters in the chair’s 2006 manual.

Wills contracted experts to conduct tests on identical wheelchairs with identical batteries. According to court records, the experts found that, “The Pride product overcharges the smaller battery, which in turn, emits hydrogen gas into the atmosphere.”

Wills said, “The testing is high probative of the extremely dangerous defect present in the chairs which Defendant Pride sells to handicapped consumers.”

Wills said he has a burn expert who will testify that the serious burns Robles suffered indicated they were caused by the burning of an accelerant, like hydrogen gas.

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