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Family of late Holy Cross coach sues renovation contractors over his death



By Associated Press
Friday, July 9, 2004

WORCESTER, Mass. - Family members of a Holy Cross football coach who died in May have sued two contractors, alleging their renovation work at the school's field house exposed Dan Allen to harmful chemicals and triggered a fatal illness.

The lawsuit alleges Southwest Recreational Industries Inc. and Martin Surfacing Inc. failed to protect occupants of the field house from hazardous substances during refinishing of a gymnasium floor. The complaint alleges workers used ``unnecessarily dangerous toxic flooring,´´ the Telegram & Gazette reported Friday.

Allen died May 16, 10 months after he announced an illness that he identified as multiple chemical sensitivity - a diagnosis that is controversial within the medical world and did not appear on his death certificate. He described his illness as a reaction to chemicals in the environment that affected his neuromuscular system.

Allen, 48, hired in 1996 to coach at Holy Cross, continued coaching even after illness confined him to a wheelchair. He died at his Westboro home following weeks of deteriorating health.

The lawsuit was filed in Worcester Superior Court on May 6, 10 days before the coach's death. The complaint seeks to recover $1.1 million in medical expenses and lost wages, as well as punitive damages.

It argues fumes, chemical dust and other airborne irritants migrated into the coaches' offices at the field house.

The defendants named in the lawsuit could not be reached for comment. The Associated Press left phone messages Friday at the offices of Hunt Valley, Md.-based Southwest Recreational Industries, which acquired Martin Surfacing in 1999. Southwest Recreational Industries sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February.

Ellen Ryder, a spokeswoman for Holy Cross, told a Worcester newspaper the college would not comment on the lawsuit.

Allen's death certificate lists ``neuromuscular degeneration´´ as the cause of death. It states that no autopsy was performed.

http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=35048&format=



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