Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against County In Carbon Monoxide Deaths

Lofgren Family Died In Aspen Vacation Home In 2008

A judge on Wednesday dismissed the civil lawsuit against Pitkin County and two building inspectors stemming from the carbon monoxide deaths of a family visiting Aspen in 2008. Another judge is expected to rule on the criminal case on Thursday.

Parker and Caroline Lofgren and their two children, ages 8 and 10, won a church auction for a getaway in the $9 million Aspen-area home over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2008.

A second family found the bodies in their beds in the home when they arrived.

Investigators determined a combination of mechanical, electrical and plumbing problems caused the carbon monoxide leak.

Civil Case

In August 2010, relatives of the Lofgrens filed a lawsuit against the companies that worked on the house and two Pitkin County building inspectors.

The lawsuit alleged that gross incompetence led to the 2008 deaths.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Martinez said the plaintiffs failed to prove that the county and its building inspector Brian Pawl and former inspector Erik Peltonen created the danger that led to the deaths of the Lofgren family, according to the Aspen Daily News.

The county argued someone might have altered a boiler after Pitkin County officials issued a permit for the home.

However, seven claims in the lawsuit -- among them negligence, manslaughter and product liability -- will continue because they were not made against the county or the inspectors, the newspaper reported.

Criminal Case

A grand jury in July 2010 indicted the owner of a plumbing and heating company and two county building inspectors, now retired, in the deaths of the Lofgrens.

In January, prosecutors dropped misdemeanor charges against all three men.

The decision meant Pitkin County building inspector Brian Pawl was no longer facing any charges. Pawl was only charged with misdemeanors.

However, the most serious felony charges, criminally negligent homicide, are still pending against Aspen building inspector Peltonen and plumbing and heating company owner Marlin Brown, The Aspen Times reported.

The defense is asking a judge to dismiss the counts, the Aspen Daily News reported.

The newspaper said Chief Judge James Boyd is expected to rule on those motions on Thursday.

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