Families of three Americans found dead in Mexico City will sue Airbnb

The relatives of Kandace Florence, Jordan Marshall and Courtez Hall want the rental giant to ensure that all properties advertised on its app have working carbon monoxide monitors

Jordan Marshall, Courtez Hall and Kandace Florence – three young Americans who were found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in Mexico City on October 31, 2022
Jordan Marshall, Courtez Hall and Kandace Florence – three young Americans who were found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in Mexico City on October 31, 2022RR.SS.

The families of Kandace Florence, Jordan Marshall and Courtez Hall – all of whom likely died of carbon monoxide poisoning in their Mexico City Airbnb – have filed a lawsuit against the rental giant.

In addition to civil reparations, the three families told NBC News that they also want Airbnb to ensure that all properties listed on its website be required to have working carbon monoxide monitors.

According to autopsy reports, Florence and Marshall – both 28 – and Courtez, 33, likely died because they inhaled excessive carbon monoxide. A hot water heater in the unit that they rented malfunctioned, releasing the toxic gas.

Victor Day – the boyfriend of Kandace Florence – told EL PAÍS that, while the Airbnb advertisement for the property in question stated that it was equipped with a carbon monoxide detector, this was not the case. The building’s administration has revealed that the floor where the three Americans died was not equipped with any such monitor.

“I cannot believe that my daughter isn’t here today. There’s no excuse for this… [a monitor] costs $30,” Freida Florence – Kandace’s mother – told NBC.

According to a lawyer representing the families, this isn’t the first time that Airbnb will face a lawsuit for deaths related to carbon monoxide poisoning. The company should require owners who advertise on their platform – known as “hosts” – to install detectors – but this is not the case, the attorney told NBC. Hosts are only “exhorted” to confirm that their apartments have these devices, but there is no verification process.

The lawyer went on to say that Airbnb probably doesn’t impose a stringent requirement for carbon monoxide detectors because thousands of non-compliant listings would have to be banned from the platform, hurting the company’s profits.

“It’s always about money. They only talk about money. That’s why we’re suing.”

Police cruisers and ambulances arrive at the site where the bodies of the three young victims were discovered.
Police cruisers and ambulances arrive at the site where the bodies of the three young victims were discovered.Cortesía

In a statement, Airbnb said that it has launched a global program which will provide free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to “eligible” hosts. The company went on to say that more than 200,000 hosts around the world have ordered devices through the program. However, Airbnb has at least four million hosts.

Florence, Marshall and Hall died at dawn on October 30, 2022, in an apartment in the district of Santa Fe, an upscale district in Mexico City. They were visiting Mexico for Day of the Dead celebrations.

A few hours before dying, Florence messaged her boyfriend, Victor Day, who was in the United States. She told him that she felt “drugged.” As she and her friends had just been out at a bar, they and their families assumed that their drinks had been tainted.

One month after their deaths, Mexican investigators delivered the verdict: carbon monoxide poisoning – the result of a damaged water heater – had killed them. One of the bodies had even been found in the shower.

EL PAÍS contacted the host of the apartment where the three young people died. They did not confirm whether or not the unit had any gas detectors. But EL PAÍS has also discovered internal communications from the company that administers the building – AIO Administration – which indicate that no such monitors were installed in the apartment.

The online ad that Day saw – which assured guests that the unit was equipped with a carbon dioxide monitor – has since been taken down.

This case – under the authority of the Mexico City Prosecutor’s Office – has been marred by contradictions. Certain police officials reported that there was a “strong smell of gas” in the apartment, which was denied by both the condominium administration and the owner of the apartment.

EL PAÍS reached out to Airbnb regarding the lawsuit that is being filed, but received no comment.

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