Widow files wrongful death suit against RV makers

Steve Gonzalez May 5, 2005, 12:07pm

Collinsville resident Brenda Rutz filed a $300,000 wrongful death suit against RV makers Norcold Inc. of Sidney, Ohio and Jayco, Inc.of Middlebury, Ind., claiming a refrigerator fire caused the death of her husband, Randall Rutz.

“During the early morning hours of Jan. 1, while Brenda and Randall Rutz were sleeping in the travel-trailer and while the refrigerator was in operation, a fire broke out in the refrigerator of the travel-trailer, killing Randall Rutz and seriously injuring Brenda Rutz,” the complaint filed in Madison County Circuit Court May 4 states.

Rutz claims tubing in the cooling unit cracked, leaking flammable gas which resulted in the fire.

According to the complaint, the Rutzes purchased a Jayco Eagle 266 FBS travel-trailer in April of 2002, and it was originally sold with a Norcold combination propane/electric refrigerator.

Randall Rutz suffered disfiguring burns and injuries to 70 percent of his body and was caused to suffer extreme mental and physical trauma and pain, medical expenses, property damage, and other expenses up to the time of his death, the complaint states.

Brenda Rutz claims that she suffered disfiguring burns to 15 percent of her body, including her arm, face, back and hip. She also suffered injuries to her lungs and vocal chords, extreme mental trauma and emotional distress, medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damages and loss of a normal life.

Rutz is represented by Troy Walton of the Rex Carr Law Firm in East St. Louis.

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