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Scott Desmond lawsuit

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Family of deceased firefighter Scott Desmond files lawsuit

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Andrew C. Schwartz (State Bar No. 64578) Thom Seaton (State Bar No. 62713 CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK A Professional Corporation California Plaza 2121 North California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, California 94596 Telephone: (925) 947-1147 Facsimile: (925) 947-1131 Attorneys for Plaintiffs

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA 9 IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF CONTRA COSTA 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

CAROLYN DESMOND, TYLER DESMOND, A MINOR, BY AND THROUGH HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, CAROLYN DESMOND, PLAINTIFFS, vs. PINNACLE SECURITY; PINNACLE SECURITY CA GP, INC.; PINNACLE SECURITY CA, LP; PINNACLE SECURITY CA, INC; PINNACLE SECURITY, LLC; PINNACLE SECURITY GROUP, L.L.C.; SECURITY ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL AND, DOES 1 THROUGH 50, et al., DEFENDANTS.

Case No. COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES WRONGFUL DEATH

Plaintiffs come before this Honorable Court and allege: PARTIES AND VENUE 1. Plaintiff Carolyn Desmond is the widow of Decedent Scott Desmond and

is entitled to bring a wrongful death action pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 337.60. 2. Plaintiff Tyler Desmond is a minor and surviving child of Decedent Scott

Desmond and is entitled to bring a wrongful death action pursuant to California Code

Desmond vs. Pinnacle Security, et al. Complaint

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CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

of Civil Procedure § 337.60. 3. Tyler’s claim is prosecuted by Carolyn Desmond, Tyler’s duly appointed

guardian ad litem. 4. At all times relevant, Decedent Scott Desmond was a firefighter

employed by the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. 5. 6. Decedent was injured and died in Contra Costa County, California. Defendants Pinnacle Security; Pinnacle Security Ca GP, Inc.; Pinnacle

Security Ca, LP; Pinnacle Security Ca, Inc;. Pinnacle Security, LLC; Pinnacle Security Group, L.L.C are foreign corporations doing business in the State of California. None of these Defendants has designated a principal place of business in California and therefore may be sued in any county in the State. 7. 8. Pinnacle Security Ca, Inc. is a California corporation. This Complaint will refer to Defendants Pinnacle Security; Pinnacle

Security Ca GP, Inc.; Pinnacle Security Ca, LP; Pinnacle Security Ca, Inc;. Pinnacle Security, LLC; Pinnacle Security Group, L.L.C; and Pinnacle Security Ca, Inc. collectively as the “Pinnacle Defendants.” 9. At all times relevant the Pinnacle Defendants were in the business of

selling and providing fire alarm services to residential customers. 10. Defendant Security Associates International (SAI) is a foreign corporation

doing business in the State of California. SAI has not designated a principal place of business in California and therefore may be sued in any county in the State. 11. At all times relevant SAI partnered and contracted with residential fire

alarm companies and provided various services to those companies, including the Pinnacle Defendants, and their customers. Among the services which SAI provided were monitoring alarms and providing operators who answered fire alarm calls placed to alarm companies which customers of alarm companies, including those of the Pinnacle Defendants, called into the Pinnacle Defendants. located in Illinois and in Florida. SAI’s operators were

An SAI operator would then contact the fire

Desmond vs. Pinnacle Security, et al. Complaint

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CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

department to report the fire. 12. At all times relevant hereto, SAI and its employees were agents of the

Pinnacle Defendants. 13. Plaintiffs are ignorant of the true names and capacities of defendants

DOES 1 through 50, and therefore sues these defendants by such fictitious names. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that each defendant so named is responsible in some manner for the injuries and damages suffered by plaintiff as described in this complaint. Plaintiffs will amend their complaint to state the true

names and capacities of defendants DOES 1 through 50 when they have been ascertained. 14. Any reference in this complaint to “Defendant,” “Defendants,” or to a

specifically-named Defendant refers also to defendants DOES 1 through 50. THE FACTS PRECIPITATING THIS ACTION 15. On July 21, 2007, Delbert and Grace Moore resided at 149 Michele

Drive, San Pablo, California, located in an unincorporated area of Contra Costa County. 16. On information and belief, Plaintiffs allege that prior to July 21, 2007,

Delbert and/or Grace Moore contracted with one or more of the Pinnacle Defendants for the installation by one or more of the Pinnacle Defendants of a fire alarm system in the Moore home. 17. On information and belief, Plaintiffs allege that the contract and/or the

material one or more of the Pinnacle Defendants provided the Moores indicated that Defendant Security Associates International (SAI) would provide the alarm monitoring services to Mr. and Ms. Moore. 18. On July 21, 2007, at 1:34.27 a.m., the SAI monitoring center in Florida

received an automatic, smoke alarm signal from the Moore home. 19. Upon receipt of the signal, Kendra, an SAI customer service

representative in Florida activated a two-way intercom in the Moore residence and

Desmond vs. Pinnacle Security, et al. Complaint

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CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

identified herself as an employee or agent of Pinnacle Alarm. 20. The Pinnacle/SAI representative asked Ms. Moore “Is everything OK?”

Ms. Moore responded, “No, we have a fire.” 21. The Pinnacle/SAI representative asked Ms. Moore if Ms. Moore wanted

the representative to call the fire department; Ms. Moore responded, “Please, please.” 22. The Pinnacle/SAI representative advised Ms. Moore that she would call

the fire department and “get them over there for you.” The conversation lasted 27 seconds. 23. At 1:36:39 a.m. on July 21, 2007, Kendra, a Pinnacle/SAI customer

service representative, or another Pinnacle/SAI customer service representative, called the Contra Costa Regional Fire Communications Center (CCRFCC) on a nonemergency line. 24. Kendra informed the Communications Center, “I’m calling to report a fire

alarm.” The representative did not state that she had spoken to Ms. Moore or that Ms. Moore had reported a fire in progress in the home. 25. Quite often, the triggering of a fire or smoke alarm is not caused by an

actual fire. Indeed, over 60 percent of alarms do not report actual fires in progress. As a result, fire departments, including the Contra Costa Fire Department, gives lower priority to reports of fire alarms unaccompanied by verified reports of an actual fire in progress. 26. At all times relevant, the Pinnacle Defendants and SAI knew or should

have known that fire departments, including the Contra Costa Fire Department, gives lower priority to reports of fire alarms unaccompanied by verified reports of an actual fire in progress. 27. Under procedures in effect at the Contra Costa Fire Protection District in

July 2007, the report of an actual residential structure fire – and not merely the report of an alarm – would have resulted in the immediate dispatch of three engine companies; a fourth piece of apparatus known as a quint (a quintuple combination

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CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

pumper/ladder truck) and a Battalion chief to supervise the dozen firefighters responding to the fire. 28. However, because the Pinnacle/SAI representative had only reported a

fire alarm, and not a fire in progress, the CCRFCC dispatcher placed the call on hold for 4 minutes and 51 seconds while the dispatcher answered a higher priority 9-1-1 emergency call. 29. At 1:42:16 a.m. on July 21, 2007, a second CCRFCC dispatcher

retrieved the call from the Pinnacle/SAI representative who reiterated that “I was calling to report a fire alarm.” Again, the representative did not state that she had spoken to Ms. Moore or that Ms. Moore had reported a fire in progress in the home. 30. Because the Pinnacle/SAI representative had only reported a fire alarm,

and not a fire in progress, the call was designated a Priority 4 and the dispatcher only assigned one engine company to respond. 31. Engine Company 70, including Fire Captain Matt Burton, Scott Desmond

(acting as a firefighter, not a fire engineer) and a fire engineer, responded to the fire Code 3 at 1:45:24 a.m. on July 21. Thereafter additional equipment responded when Department personnel learned that the Moore home was an involved residential structure fire. 32. Engine Company 70 arrived at the Moore home at 1:50:28 a.m. and

reported heavy smoke and fire. Within a minute of the firefighters’ arrival, they learned that two people were inside. 33. At approximate 1:54 a.m. on July 21, 2007, Fire Engineer Desmond and

Captain Burton entered the Moore home to rescue Grace and Delbert Moore. 34. Shortly after they entered the home, the two men died. The cause of

their death was smoke inhalation and thermal injury.

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION NEGLIGENCE
Desmond vs. Pinnacle Security, et al. Complaint Page 5

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CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

RESPONDEAT SUPERIOR (Against All Defendants) 35. Plaintiffs incorporate herein all allegations set forth in paragraphs 1

through 34 of this Complaint as though re-alleged in full. 36. All the actions, conduct and failure to act which Plaintiffs allege against

the employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants and SAI were committed within the course and scope of the employees’ and agents’ employment or agency with the Pinnacle Defendants and/or SAI. 37. At all times relevant, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants

and SAI, were in the business of relaying information received from customers of the Pinnacle Defendants of both fire alarms and actual fires in progress to fire departments. 38. At all times relevant, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants

and SAI had assumed and were aware of their duty to relay an accurate description of the information they received from the customers of the Pinnacle Defendants and SAI to fire departments. 39. At all times relevant, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants

and SAI understood that fire departments and firefighters would rely on the information provided by the employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants and SAI to fire departments. 40. At all times relevant, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants

and SAI understood that firefighters would be imperiled if employees or agents of the Pinnacle Defendants or SAI failed to accurately communicate to fire departments the information these employees or agents received from customers who called the Pinnacle Defendants and/or SAI to report a fire. 41. At all times relevant, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants

and SAI, who were in the business of relaying information of both fire alarms and actual fires in progress to fire departments, knew or should have known that fire

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CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

departments responded differently to reports of a fire alarm than to a verified report from an individual that a structure was burning. 42. As heretofore alleged, between approximately 1:34:27 a.m. and 1:35

a.m., on July 21, 2007, one or more employees or agents of the Pinnacle Defendants and/or SAI learned directly from Grace Moore that the Moore home was on fire and that the incident did not involve only an alarm without the verified existence of a fire in progress. 43. At all times relevant, one or more employees or agents or the Pinnacle

Defendants and/or SAI breached their duty of care as follows: Although aware from Grace Moore that her home was on fire, a Pinnacle/SAI customer service representative spoke to the Contra Costa Regional Fire Communications Center on a non-emergency line. Between 1:36:39 a.m. and 1:44 a.m. on at least two occasions a representative advised the Communications Center that Pinnacle and/or SAI had received only the report of an alarm from the Moore residence; failed to report that the Moore home was on fire, and failed to report that a customer representative of the Pinnacle Defendants and/or SAI had spoken to Grace Moore who had reported a fire in progress in the home. 44. As a direct and proximate result of the inaccurate and incomplete

statement by a Pinnacle Defendants’ and/or SAI’s customer service representative, the Communications Center operator, who had been informed that the incident at the Moore home was only an alarm and not a residential structure fire, placed the call from the Pinnacle Defendants’ and/or SAI customer service representative on hold for almost 5 minutes, while the fire in the Moore home grew in intensity. 45. As a direct and proximate result of the inaccurate and incomplete

statement by a Pinnacle Defendants’ and/or SAI’s customer service representative, the Communications Center dispatched only one engine, Engine Company 70, to the Moore home, rather than the four pieces of apparatus which the Communications Center would have dispatched, along with a Battalion Chief, to the Moore home, had

Desmond vs. Pinnacle Security, et al. Complaint

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they been provided with accurate information about the fire at the Moore residence. 46. As a direct and proximate result of the inaccurate and incomplete

statement by a Pinnacle Defendants’ and/or SAI’s customer service representative, Engine Company 70, carrying Scott Desmond, arrived at the Moore home without backup from other firefighters. Nonetheless, when Scott Desmond and Captain Matt Burton learned that Grace and Delbert Moore were in the burning and smoke-filled residence, Desmond and Burton entered the home where they died. 47. If the customer representative employed by the Pinnacle Defendants

and/or SAI, consistent with what Grace Moore had stated, had called the Contra Costa Regional Fire Communications Center on an emergency line and had informed the dispatcher that a resident living in the home had reported an actual fire in progress, Scott Desmond would not have died in the fire at the Moore home. 48. Plaintiffs were dependent upon decedent for love, society, comfort, As a proximate result of the

companionship, and moral and financial support.

Defendants’ negligence and the wrongful death of Plaintiffs’ decedent, Plaintiffs suffered pecuniary damages, and incurred burial and funeral expenses. WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for relief as hereafter set forth. SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION RESPONDEAT SUPERIOR (Against The Pinnacle Defendants And SAI 49. Plaintiffs incorporate herein all allegations set forth in paragraphs 1

21 through 49 of this Complaint as though re-alleged in full. 22 50. 23 the employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants and SAI were committed within 24 the course and scope of the employees’ and agents’ employment or agency with the 25 Pinnacle Defendants and/or SAI. 26 51. 27 and SAI responsible for training customer services representatives were in the 28
CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

All the actions, conduct and failure to act which Plaintiffs allege against

At all times relevant, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants

Desmond vs. Pinnacle Security, et al. Complaint

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CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

business of relaying information received from customers of the Pinnacle Defendants of both fire alarms and actual fires in progress to fire departments. 52. At all times relevant, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants

and SAI responsible for training customer services representatives were aware of their obligation to properly train their employees and agents to accurately relay information to fire departments and firefighters and to recognize the difference between reports of a fire alarm alone and receipt of an actual fire in progress. 53. At all times relevant, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants

and SAI responsible for training customer services representatives understood that fire departments and firefighters would rely on the information provided by the employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants and SAI to fire departments. 54. At all times relevant, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants

and SAI responsible for training customer services representatives understood that firefighters would be imperiled if employees or agents of the Pinnacle Defendants or SAI failed to accurately communicate to fire departments the information these employees or agents received from customers who called the Pinnacle Defendants and/or SAI to report a fire. 55. At all times relevant, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants

and SAI responsible for training customer services representatives, who were in the business of relaying information of both fire alarms and actual fires in progress to fire departments, knew or should have known that fire departments responded differently to reports of a fire alarm than to a verified report from an individual that a structure was burning. 56. Nonetheless, employees and agents of the Pinnacle Defendants and SAI

responsible for training customer services representatives breached their duty of due care to fire departments and firefighters by negligently failing to train customer service representatives, including the representative who contacted the Contra Costa Regional Fire Communications Center on a non-emergency line and reported the fire at the

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CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

Moore residence as a “fire alarm” and not as a fire in progress. 57. As a proximate and direct result of this failure to train the Pinnacle/SAI

customer representative, the Communications Center delayed dispatching fire apparatus to the home and, under the belief that only a fire alarm had been reported, dispatched only Engine 70, the truck carrying Scott Desmond and Matt Burton, rather than the four pieces of apparatus which the Communications Center would have dispatched, along with a Battalion Chief, to the Moore home. 58. As a proximate and direct result of this failure to train the Pinnacle/SAI

customer representative, Engine Company 70, carrying Scott Desmond arrived at the Moore home without backup from other firefighters. Nonetheless, when Scott

Desmond and Captain Matt Burton learned that Grace and Delbert Moore were in the burning and smoke-filled residence, Desmond and Burton entered the home where they died. 59. If the customer representative(s) employed by the Pinnacle Defendants

and/or SAI had been properly trained and had informed the dispatcher that a resident living in the home had reported an actual fire in progress, Scott Desmond would not have died in the fire at the Moore residence. 60. Plaintiffs were dependent upon decedent for love, society, comfort, As a proximate result of the

companionship, and moral and financial support.

Defendants’ negligence and the wrongful death of Plaintiffs’ decedent, Plaintiffs suffered pecuniary damages, and incurred burial and funeral expenses. WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for relief as hereafter set forth. 1. For general damages, according to proof; 2. For special damages, according to proof; 3. For pecuniary damages, according to proof; 4. For funeral and burial expenses according to proof; 5. For costs of suit incurred herein; and 6. For such other and further relief as the court may deem just and proper.
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CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK 2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 1020 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 TEL: (925) 947-1147 FAX (925) 947-1131

Dated: August 19, 2008 Thom Seaton Andrew C. Schwartz CASPER, MEADOWS, SCHWARTZ & COOK Attorneys for Plaintiffs

Desmond vs. Pinnacle Security, et al. Complaint

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