Damages Awarded as Fumes From Driveway De-Icer Kills Family

Associated Press

A utility and a plumbing company will pay $3.2 million to settle lawsuits in the deaths of three family members who were killed by poisonous fumes from a driveway de-icer.

John Cifarelli, 34, his pregnant wife, Linda, 26, and their 2-year-old daughter, Nina, were found dead in their bedrooms on Dec. 10, 1988.

Investigators said the vent to the gas-powered heater did not open properly and released carbon monoxide fumes into the house.

A 4-year-old daughter, Anabelle, and a house guest survived because they were near an open window.


Vermont Gas Systems Inc., which designed and installed the driveway heater in 1972, agreed this month to pay $2.8 million, said Alan Sylvester, who represented the Cifarelli estate. C&L; Plumbing and Heating, which inspected the heater after it malfunctioned in November, 1987, agreed to pay $400,000, he said.

The man who sold the house to the Cifarellis, Stephen Converse Brooks, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter last October for failing to tell the family that there had been problems with the driveway heater.