Airbnb Is Being Sued By the Families of 3 Victims Who Died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Mexico
The families say Airbnb shoud have carbon monoxide detectors required in all of its properties.
Three U.S. citizens died in an Airbnb from carbon monoxide poisoning in early November, and the families of the victims are taking the company to task.
Jennifer Marshall, Freida Florence, and Ceola Hall, the mothers of the three victims, told NBC News in an exclusive interview that they are planning to sue the company.
"We can never get our babies back. But we really want to ensure that no other family has to deal with this," Marshall told NBC.
Airbnb does not require carbon monoxide detectors in all of its rentals, of which the company says there are over 4 million, in spaces from treehouses to mansions.
The group's attorney, L. Chris Stewart of the Atlanta-based civil rights firm Stewart Miller Simmons says that Airbnb needs to immediately change its rules.
"People are dying," he told Entrepreneur.
In a lawsuit that has not yet been filed, the families plan to ask Airbnb to require hosts to have carbon monoxide detectors in all properties.
The group of young people, Jordan Marshall, 28; Kandace Florence, 28; and Courtez Hall, 33; had reportedly been visiting Mexico City for Día de los Muertos, which occurs in late October and early November and involves honoring people who have died through parades, celebrations, and altar installations.
Local authorities confirmed earlier this month that it's believed the group died in the Airbnb in the La Rosita neighborhood due to carbon monoxide poisoning, per Reuters.
"I cannot process in my mind why my daughter is not here today… There is no excuse. There is no excuse. It cost $30. If I had known, I would have bought it for her," Florence told NBC.
Airbnb said that it has given away more than 200,000 carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to hosts for free through the "global detector program." The company also launched a program to expedite shipments of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to Mexico Airbnb hosts specifically in July.
"This is a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones as they grieve such an unimaginable loss. Our priority right now is supporting those impacted as the authorities investigate what happened, and we stand ready to assist with their inquiries however we can," a spokesperson said via email.
Two of the people who died, Kandace and Jordan, were from Virginia Beach and were friends from high school. Jordan's friend, Courtez Hall, was from New Orleans, per WAVY.
Kandace had texted her boyfriend to let her know she wasn't feeling well, who later contacted the host when he did not hear back, the family told WAVY.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning kills about 400 people in the U.S. each year, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion," the agency writes.
But the gas itself has no smell and can be emitted by things like stoves and cars -- and can be quickly fatal in large concentrations. Per the National Conference of State Legislatures, the majority of states in 2018 required some sort of carbon monoxide detector presence.
In 2018, a Louisiana couple died in an Airbnb in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, from carbon monoxide poisoning, and the company then said it would let guests know before they booked if a place didn't have a carbon monoxide detector. But the company did not move to make detectors a requirement.
Stewart claims, per NBC, that Airbnb doesn't want to have fewer listings (and thus less revenue) by having to remove people for not having carbon monoxide detectors.
He further told Entrepreneur he thinks the platform has avoided making this a requirement so far because several of the incidents have happened outside of the U.S. But he thinks the platform is just as capable of requiring smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as it is banning parties, for example.
"Clearly, they have that ability," he said. "They can do that. It's just they haven't, and three people are dead."