A couple that survived the tragic Bronx high-rise fire filed a $3 billion, class-action suit on Tuesday, Jan. 11, alleging that the current and former landlords “had actual notice of defective conditions” in the apartment building, the New York Post reports.
In a related court filing, the married couple Rosa Reyes and Felix Martinez argued that those affected by the Jan. 9 fire that killed at least 17 people, including eight children, should get $1 billion because city officials were also negligent.
According to local station WABC, the lawsuit against the landlords pointed to several defective conditions in the 19-story building that they neglected to fix: failing to make sure the front doors were self-closing to prevent smoke from spreading, failing to ensure that all smoke detectors worked, failing to have a sprinkler system, among other faults.
Reyes and Martinez are seeking $1 billion in compensatory damages and $2 billion in punitive damages for themselves and “all others similarly situated.”
The plaintiffs also filed a notice of claim against the city’s Department of Buildings and the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, as well as former Mayor Bill de Blasio and Housing Commissioner Melanie La Rocca, according to the newspaper.
It accuses city officials of failing to make sure the self-closing apartment doors worked when they allegedly knew that the devices become rusty over time. The Post said a copy of its article about the building accumulating more than 24 violations and complaints since 2014 accompanied the notice of claim against the city.
The class-action suit against the landlords names the defendants as the building’s joint-venture owner, Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, and its three member companies, Lich Investment Group, Belveron Partners, and Camber Property Group, according to the Post. It also names as defendants the former building owners Cammeby’s International Group and the company’s founder, real-estate tycoon Rubin Schron.
“We are devastated by this terrible tragedy and are cooperating fully with the Fire Department and other agencies as they continue to investigate,” Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC said in a statement obtained by the Post.