Jon Campisi Mar. 26, 2013, 6:59am

The family of an elderly Philadelphia woman who allegedly died as a result of scalded by hot bath water in what the plaintiffs contend was an act of negligence on the part of contractors have filed suit against the home restoration company and plumbing agency who worked on the late woman’s house prior to her death.

Ilona Le and her son, Alex Le, are suing Northeast Philadelphia-based Rapid Restoration LLC and Edward Hughes and Son, Inc., a plumbing company based in the city’s Fishtown neighborhood, over allegations that an improperly installed hot water heater led to serious injuries that ultimately caused the death of Christine Grygiel.

Rapid had been retained to perform an interior reconstruction of Grygiel’s house after the structure was seriously damaged by a fire sometime in 2010, the complaint states.

During February 2012, the home’s hot water heater began to leak, and defendant Edward Hughes and Son were brought in to replace the device.

In early March of last year, following the installation of the hot water heater, Grygiel attempted to take a bath when scalding hot water came out of the faucet while it was turned to the cold position, causing the water temperature to reach a “dangerous and life threatening temperature,” the lawsuit says.

Alex Le, the woman’s grandson, heard the woman’s agonizing screams, and rushed to the bathroom, where he discovered his grandmother had been scalded by the hot water.

Alex Le shut off the water and lifted his grandmother from the tub, but the damage had already been done, the complaint states, with the scalding hot water causing second-degree burns to the woman’s trunk, abdomen, back, buttocks and arms.

Grygiel died three days later, in what the lawsuit contends was a direct result of the burns.

The cause of death was listed as thermal injury and sequelae, the suit states.

Rapid Restoration is accused of failing to properly perform the restoration work, and in particular, failing to properly install piping emanating from the hot water heater.

The company, the suit alleges, failed to follow established procedures by not assuring that the hot and cold water pipes were properly installed so that the hot water supply pipe was running to the cold water connector of the faucet in the first-floor bathroom.

Rapid Restoration is also accused of creating a hazardous and dangerous condition by having the hot water coming from the cold-water faucet.

Edward Hughes and Son is accused of performing similar negligent acts, including permitting the water flow to be reversed so that there was no automatic adjustment for water over a safe temperature.

The plumbing company is also accused of failing to properly install the hot water heater to assure the manual and automatic temperature regulation of the faucet control was not compromised.

Grygiel ended up experiencing “extreme pain and suffering,” the complaint alleges, and her family has suffered financial loss as a result of having to take care of the injured and dying woman.

“Defendants acted with reckless indifference to the interests of Decedent in failing to assure the pipe[s] were properly installed,” the suit reads.

The complaint contains counts of wrongful death, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and survival action.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Philadelphia attorney James R. Radmore.


The case ID number is 130302865.

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