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Family of Deceased Toddler Sues Heather Manufacturer and Others

Posted November 27, 2017 - phillipgilbertlaw.com

By Aimee Green agreen@oregonian.com
The Oregonian/OregonLive

The parents of a 2-year-old girl who died, reportedly after a heater in their apartment raised the temperature in the girl’s room to a lethal level, filed an $8 million lawsuit this week.

Taqwa Dakhlalla was a healthy little girl but died last Dec. 11 when the heater and the thermostat in her room malfunctioned as she slept, said Jane Paulson, a Portland attorney representing the girl’s estate. Taqwa’s parents — Janna Walton and Abdullah Dakhlalla — found their daughter the next morning in her crib, Paulson said. The lawsuit faults apartment owners Cathedral Park Investments LLC and the apartment management company Gordon Properties Inc. The family’s apartment was in the 8300 block of North Willamette Boulevard.

Carl Rodrigues, a Portland attorney representing the defendants, said much more investigation into the incident needs to be done, but so far he’s found no liability on the part of his clients.

Taqwa’s family also recently filed a lawsuit in Washington against the company, Cadet heaters, that’s believed to have distributed the heater, Paulson said.

The Oregon Health Authority listed Taqwa’s cause of death as hyperthermia, or overheating.

In April, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office sent Gordon Properties a letter stating that the thermostat in Taqwa’s room was reportedly set to 62 degrees, but the temperature next to the girl’s crib reached 90 degrees or higher as the heater apparently kept running. The DA’s office said that during testing after the girl’s death, the air blowing from the heater hovered between 110 and 115 degrees, and spiked once to 200 degrees. The DA’s office asked Gordon Properties to inspect the wall heater in the apartment and any other apartments with similar heaters. The letter stated that if necessary, the company should replace the heaters.

Taqwa was an only child, although her mother gave birth to a second child in September.

Walton has posted several photos, videos and entries about the couple’s enormous loss. “Today marks 6 months without your little giggles, 26 weeks without our cuddle sessions, 182 days without our countless kisses but it also marks 4380 hours of you still making your baba’s life and mines ceaselessly better,” Walton wrote in one post. “I love you so much, Taqwa,” Walton continued. “Mommy has to rediscover herself because you were all she ever wanted.”

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court.