A 59-year-old college professor of education, died two days after an LP gas explosion in his rented, furnished house in Vermont.
The decedent and his wife were unfamiliar with the smell and significance of ethyl mercaptan odorant used in LP gas. His wife smelled an odor but did not recognize it as a warning of the presence of gas. The explosion occurred when decedent, who had smelled the odor, lit a cigarette. The local retailer admitted that it was its standard practice to require its employees to instruct new customers how to recognize ethyl mercaptan odor; the employees failed to do so in the instant case. The gas supplier admitted that it would not expect customers to recognize ethyl mercaptan or associate that odor with gas without express instructions, and admitted that its only instruction method was the sending of a “welcome” pamphlet which decedent allegedly never received.