City of Seattle ordered to pay fees in SPD carbon monoxide case

SEATTLE — The city of Seattle could be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees in a carbon monoxide lawsuit filed last year by an officer.

The case stems from the carbon monoxide levels inside the basement garage at the West Precinct.

According to the lawsuit, when Seattle Police officers drive into this garage, they keep their vehicles running.

Now a sergeant here believes the carbon monoxide that builds up is making him sick.

In just a few minutes outside the West Precinct, patrol cars can been seen pulling into the garage. What can’t be seen is what a sergeant based here has told his lawyer. He says officers sit in their patrol cars doing police work, their vehicles running in an enclosed garage.

“You have somewhere between 10 to 15 cars idling, engines running, exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide being exposed in an inside garage,” says Seattle lawyer Sumeer Singla.

Singla says his client’s health has suffered.

“He would experience headaches, chronic fatigue, loss of memory, confusion,” he said.

The sergeant says he has also felt retaliation, unsettling notes left for him, passed over for jobs for which he is qualified.

Worse, when Singla’s carbon monoxide expert tried to test the air quality in the garage, he says the city interfered.

“They did not turn the fan levels down like the court had ordered so we were not able to get the accurate readings we were supposed to get,” said Singla.

This week, a judge agreed and ruled the city must pay any and all fees the sergeant incurs in his legal fight.

Still Singla says that may not be enough to save the sergeant’s career.

“I’ll put this in my words and not my officer’s words,” he said. “They’ve put him on the slow train to nowhere.”

This ruling has come in the early phases of this lawsuit. Singla says he and his client are fully prepared to continue to take this case to trial.