Landlord Sued For Wrongful Death After House Fire
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against a landlord after the deaths of five residents who were trapped on a third-story. Among the allegations leveled against the landlord were the failure to have any means of “egress” (escape) from the third story. The lack of functioning fire detectors was also cited.
In addition to the landlord, the township in which the home was owned is being sued for failing to enforce building codes that would have caught the matter before the fire occurred. While the township did, apparently, issue citations and summonses, it did nothing to enforce those citations leaving the residents in a death trap.
The landlord, however, contends that the matter was caused by first-floor residents who failed to extinguish a cigarette butt causing the fire. While that may be true, it does not mean that the landlord has no responsibility to the tenants. In this case, both the first and second-floor tenants were able to escape without harm. However, a family of Guatemalans was trapped when a staircase collapsed after being destroyed by fire. All five family members were killed in the blaze.
That lawsuit against the township
Several criminal complaints were filed against the landlord including failure to have a permit, building code violations, and more. Several were served mere weeks before the blaze occurred. The permits are reissued after buildings have been inspected. In this case, the landlord allowed the license to lapse rather than having the building inspected. The landlord refused to respond to notices and efforts to contact the landlord went unanswered. An attorney for the landlord claimed that her failing health and pressures related to the coronavirus prevented her from meeting her obligations to the township. The complaint accuses the town of failing to issue summonses for building code violations that would have prevented the deaths of this family.
The landlord also claims that the third floor had smoke detectors but that appears unlikely. Further, the state requires two usable means of escape for apartments. In this case, there was only one means of escape, a stairwell that had been destroyed by the fire.
The lawsuit accuses the township of not adequately enforcing building codes that would have prevented the deaths of this family. It further accuses the landlord of knowingly operating a death trap that she could not afford to maintain and exposing individuals to lethal harm to avoid the cost of meeting basic requirements.
One impediment to wrongful death lawsuits is that you need someone to sue. When an entire family dies, it can be more difficult to find plaintiffs. Ultimately, the estate can file suit, but it’s only able to recover specific types of damages. Ultimately, a landlord in this situation may have killed anyone who can file a lawsuit against them.
Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer Today
The office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. represents the interests of Miami residents who have been injured by negligent parties. Call our Miami personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can discuss your allegations in more detail.