Two-year-old Taqwa Dakhlalla died in her sleep last December when the thermostat and heater in her room in Portland, Oregon malfunctioned, causing the temperature in the room to rise to an excessive level. She was found dead the next morning in her crib.
Her parents, Janna Walton and Abdullah Dakhlalla, filed an $8 million lawsuit this week against Cathedral Park Investments LLC, which owns the apartment where they reside, and Gordon Properties Inc., the apartment management company. The family has also filed a lawsuit in Washington against Cadet heaters, the company that is believed to have distributed the heater.
Taqwa’s cause of death was listed as hyperthermia which occurs when the body is exposed to excessive heat and the body’s heat-regulating mechanisms are overwhelmed. According to the Boston Children’s Hospital, children are at an increased risk for heat-related illnesses because they sweat less than adults.
According to The Oregonian, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office tested the heater in the apartment after Taqwa’s death. The office found that the temperature of the air blowing from the heater hovered between 110 and 115 degrees. Testing also showed that the temperature of the air spiked to 200 degrees at one point. The District Attorney’s Office sent a letter to Gordon Properties in April of 2017 stating these findings and that though the thermostat was set to 62 degrees, the heater continued to run and the temperature next to Taqwa’s crib reached 90 degrees or higher.
The defendants’ attorney stated that further investigation needs to be completed, but thus far he has not found that his clients are liable.