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CDA mayor, resort manager named in lawsuit alleging wrongful death

Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer and Coeur d’Alene Resort General Manager Bill Reagan are targets of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the son of a 73-year-old woman who died of hypothermia in her apartment.

Widmyer and Reagan are co-owners of the Royal Arms Apartments, where Margie Saunders lived alone and died as a result of the apartment complex’s heating deficiencies in November 2014, according to the lawsuit filed by her son, Stephen Saunders.

Stephen Saunders claims the defendants received multiple complaints from tenants over a seven-month period about the lack of heat and hot water and that defendants “failed to provide heat, hot water, other habitable necessities and/or proper maintenance or repair” to Margie Saunders’ apartment, court documents say.

Several other defendents are named in the suit, including BW Real Estate LLC and C.E Oakland Plumbing and Heating.

Widmyer, Reagan and C.E. Oakland Plumbing were not immediately available for comment.

From March to June 2014, the 12-unit, low-income apartment complex had multiple problems with its boiler system, court documents say. Oakland Plumbing and Heating was called out multiple times and warned the defendants that crucial pumps needed to be replaced and were “no longer repairable,” the lawsuit alleges.

In September, and again in October, Oakland determined the pumps for the boiler system needed to be replaced, including the old pumps identified from seven months earlier, court records say.

The plaintiff alleges multiple tenants complained to the defendants, including the mother of a child who “awoke with frozen fingers due to the lack of heat in her apartment.”

On about Nov. 12, 2014, Saunders died and was found on the floor of her apartment. The Kootenai County coroner’s report states she died of both hypothermia and ethanol intoxication. Ethanol is the principal type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.

According to court documents, the apartment’s temperature was near or below freezing.

Stephen Saunders is asking for a jury trial. He is suing for compensatory, mental and emotional damages.

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