Darrel Nation and Anhthu Nguyen, both nurses, were tenants of an apartment building in Long Beach, California. During a power outage, the Plaintiffs lit candles and believed that they were extinguished when they went to bed. Several hours later, a fire broke out and spread throughout the apartment. The Plaintiffs attempted to escape from their bedroom but their efforts were hampered because the release mechanism for the security bars covering their bedroom window was hidden and apparently inoperable. Eventually, due to the heroic efforts of city firefighters, the security bars were bent and Ms. Nguyen and Mr. Nation were able to escape.
At no time during the fire did any smoke detectors activate in the apartment or the common areas of the apartment complex, and it was later determined that the required detectors were inoperable.
Mr. Nation suffered third degree burns over 40 percent of his body as well as other injuries. Ms. Nguyen had acute smoke inhalation, lacerations and smoke damage to her eyes. The defendants contended that Plaintiffs did not extinguish the candles prior to going to bed and failed to maintain the smoke alarms in their unit.