Wrongful Death Lawsuit In a Fire for Not Installing a Smoke Detector

In Sandstrom v. De Silva, 268 Ill. App. 3d 932, 645 N.E.2d 345, 206 Ill. Dec. 340 (1994), the administrator of the estate of a woman who died as a result of a townhouse fire filed a wrongful death and survival action against the townhouse owner and the townhouse owner's association on the ground that they did not equip and maintain a smoke detector in the townhouse. The relevant statute and ordinance relating to the installation of smoke detectors required that the owner of the "building" or "structure" was obligated to install the smoke detector. Looking to section 13-4-010 of the Chicago Municipal Code, the court found that each townhouse unit, which was separated by fire walls from its neighboring unit, was a separate building -- and, as such, the association was absolved from liability. Sandstrom, 268 Ill. App. 3d at 936.