Wednesday, February 28

New York Bronx Fire Victims File Lawsuits

(CNN) — Tenants and family members of the victims of the Bronx fire that killed at least 17 people have filed a class action lawsuit against the current and former owners of the building where the fire occurred, according to court documents.

The class action lawsuit, filed Tuesday, seeks $ 2 billion in damages. The lawsuit against the building’s owners alleges that the defendants were negligent on several fronts, including, “not ensuring that the front steel doors closed on their own; the smoke detectors in the facility in question and within each apartment at the facility in question were not ensured that they were working; did not provide adequate and legal heating, allowed alarms to go off all the time; It did not have an intercom system throughout the premises; did not have a sprinkler system; it did not ensure that the lines and electrical systems at the facilities in question were in good working order. “

The city and several entities also received notice of a separate class action lawsuit seeking $ 1 billion in damages for alleged negligence in complying with building codes.

Civil attorney Robert Vilensky currently represents 22 people in the lawsuits and hopes that more similarly affected parties will follow suit.

A plaintiff named in the documents, Felix Martinez, is currently in critical condition at Jacobi Hospital with a ventilator and significant burns, Vilensky told CNN. His wife Rosa Reyes, who is also listed as a plaintiff, and their son were able to leave the building and are not hospitalized, Vilensky said.

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A relative of a tenant who died in the fire is also cited as a complainant, as well as some people who suffered smoke inhalation, among others.

In a statement to CNN, New York City Legal Department press secretary Nicholas Paolucci said: “This was a horrible tragedy and too many lives were lost. There is an active investigation into this tragic incident. We will review the complaint. “

Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, which is named in the lawsuit, issued a statement to CNN Tuesday night. “We are devastated by this terrible tragedy and we are cooperating fully with the Fire Department and other agencies as they continue to investigate,” they said.

CNN has also reached out to the other named defendants for comment.

Faulty electric heater caused fire in New York 1:29

The victims of the fire

All 17 victims of the Bronx apartment building fire died from smoke inhalation, according to the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME).

The manner of death was determined to be an accident, said OCME public affairs director Julie Bolcer.

An electric heater started a fire in a duplex unit, flooding the 19-story apartment building with smoke.

Firefighters said the smoke could have spread because the door to that apartment and the stairway door to the 15th floor were left open, although the doors were supposed to have closed automatically.

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