Bronx fire victims take first legal action against tower owners

A couple who survived the Bronx, NY fire that killed 17 people sued the current and former owners of the high-rise apartment building, alleging that the owners were aware of the faulty conditions in the 120-building. units.

Sunday’s fire, probably triggered by a faulty radiator, was one of the deadliest in New York City history. The victims died from smoke inhalation, city officials said.

A faulty door that did not close accelerated the spread of smoke after the fire broke out in a third-floor unit and the family inside fled to safety, said officials.

Rosa Reyes and Felix Martinez, the main plaintiffs, are seeking $ 1 billion in compensatory damages for themselves and other fire victims, according to the lawsuit filed in the Bronx Supreme Court on Tuesday. The lawsuit also seeks class action status, alleging that those affected are collectively entitled to $ 2 billion in punitive damages.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include the current owner of the building’s joint venture, Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, and its three member companies, as well as the former owners who sold the 19-story property in 2019.

The lawsuit alleges that the owners of the building failed to ensure that the steel fire doors remain functional and that the fire alarms are functioning properly or are providing adequate heat, among other things.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Robert Vilensky also filed a notice of claim against the city on Tuesday, signaling his intention to seek an additional $ 1 billion for those who join the proposed class action lawsuit. A judge must approve the request for class action status.

“There isn’t a number high enough,” Vilensky said.

Kelly Magee, spokesperson for Bronx Park Phase III Preservation, said the company is cooperating fully with the city’s investigation into the fire.

“We are devastated by this terrible tragedy,” she said in an emailed statement. She did not comment on the trial.

The notice of claim, filed with the city’s comptroller’s office, names the Department of Buildings and the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development as well as former Mayor Bill de Blasio, among other officials, as defendants.

The city “has failed in all respects” to ensure that owners provide working self-closing doors, which are required by New York City law, according to the claim.

City legal department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci said the plaintiffs’ claim is under consideration while the fire investigation continues.

Mr Vilensky said he expects his claim against the city to be incorporated into the Bronx class action lawsuit as the two cases progress. He said he already has 22 plaintiffs who have joined the lawsuits against the owners of the building and expects that number to increase.

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