FORDHAM HEIGHTS, the Bronx – Survivors of a tragic Bronx apartment fire filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the building’s landlords on Tuesday.
The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Bronx couple Rosa Reyes and Felix Martinez and their neighbors who said they suffered injuries and property damage.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges the landlords failed to replace smoke detectors, failed to make sure owners placed smoke and fire detectors in the building, failed to provide adequate heat for tenants, and failed to maintain the area in a safe condition, allowing for the space to be in a broken, cracked, defective and dangerous condition.
Another lawsuit was filed against city authorities, accusing them of giving “lip service” to safety and fire issues, allegedly making them responsible for the injuries and deaths, as well.
The lawsuit claims the city’s Department of Buildings is responsible for ensuring self-closing doors in buildings are operating, but the agency “failed in every way” to ensure the building was properly maintained and doors were in good working order.
Spring-loaded hinges that were supposed to shut the door automatically did not work. A second door left open in a stairwell higher up acted as a flue, sucking smoke upward and through the building. New York City’s chief medical examiner told NewsNation that smoke inhalation was the cause of death for all those killed.
According to court documents, former Mayor Bill de Blasio and Buildings Commissioner Melanie LaRocca –who are named in the lawsuit — were also aware of the building’s conditions “for many, many years now,” referencing de Blasio’s promise to ensure that all buildings are inspected following the deadly Bronx fire in 2017 that killed 13 and injured many others.
Seventeen people, including eight children, were killed and dozens of families were injured and left homeless after the blaze broke out on the third floor of the high-rise apartment building Sunday morning.
The fire stemmed from a malfunctioning space heater inside an apartment, according to authorities.
The door to the apartment where the flames broke out was left open, FDNY officials have said. While the flames never escaped the third floor, smoke poured into the building’s stairwells and, with a second door left open on a 15th-floor landing, rapidly swept throughout the building.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.