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Judge threatens homeowner with jail if she doesn't allow inspection after Plaistow deaths

Union Leader Correspondent

August 15. 2018 9:56AM
Three people died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning inside this home at 5 Center Circle in Plaistow on Feb. 17, 2014. (JASON SCHREIBER PHOTO)

BRENTWOOD — A judge has threatened to jail a Plaistow homeowner if she doesn’t allow an inspection of her residence, where three people died of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2014.

Rockingham County Superior Court Judge N. William Delker has ordered Mary Winglass to let inspectors into her home at 5 Center Circle as part of a wrongful death suit filed in Massachusetts.

Winglass, who bought the home in 2015, has fought the inspections and voiced privacy concerns.

The order follows the February 2014 deaths of Kirk Walsh, 32, who owned the home at the time, and coworkers Maryanne Comparato, 47, and John Adams Jr., 28.

A fourth victim, Keith Small, survived.

Fire officials have said the deaths resulted from carbon monoxide poisoning that likely came from a heating system in the basement.

The home inspection was requested by lawyers for Karl Dungs Inc. and Karl Dungs GmbH & Co. KG, which manufacture products for the heating industry.

Dungs is one of several defendants being sued over the deaths in Massachusetts and wants to inspect the home before the case goes to trial in October.

The suit claims the carbon monoxide poisoning was caused by a defectively and negligently manufactured, installed, inspected and operated heating system at the home. The suit also alleges that the boiler associated with the heating system was defective.

A Massachusetts court ruled that the inspection by Dungs is necessary as it prepares to defend itself against the lawsuit.

Winglass has expressed concerns about allowing people she doesn’t know to enter her home to inspect it and learn the layout. She has also told the court that the heating system is no longer in the residence. Despite her objections, Judge Andrew Schulman ruled in March that the inspection could take place on April 9.

The date was later moved to April 30, but the inspection still hasn’t been done.

Dungs filed a motion in June asking that Winglass be found in contempt of court and that the order allowing the inspection be enforced.

“After careful consideration of the nature of the limited inspection requested by the Dungs and Ms. Winglass’s objections, the court finds that the inspection is necessary to the ongoing litigation and that Ms. Winglass has not established any interest that would outweigh the limited intrusion on her property rights,” Delker wrote in his order issued last week.

Delker ordered that the inspection take place Friday.

“If Ms. Winglass does not allow the Dungs or their expert to enter the residence, the sheriff is granted authority to conduct a forced entry into the residence. Ms. Winglass shall be responsible for any damage caused by the forced entry,” Delker’s order said.

Delker also wrote that he could order Winglass “to be incarcerated to ensure the inspection can occur as ordered” if she interferes.

Courts Plaistow

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