Holyoke Fire Victims Sue Property Owner and Management Company

A Holyoke family who narrowly escaped death during a January 1 fire filed suit for negligence on February 16 in Hampden Superior Court. Three victims were killed and 50 people were left homeless after the wild fire ravaged the four-story apartment building.

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Investigators decided the fire began when a wall outlet inside an apartment unit malfunctioned. The building was not equipped with sprinklers. (However, Massachusetts law did not require it to have a sprinkler system.) The investigators also concluded that the alarm system lost the connection to its monitoring company about a day prior to the fire. Thus, when the fire broke out, the alarms activated, but no signal was sent to the monitoring company. Accordingly, there was up to a 20-minute delay before the fire department was alerted t0 the fire.

On January 1, the plaintiff awoke from a deep sleep to find deadly smoke and flames filling her apartment. She was forced to drop her two-year-old daughter from a third-floor window. The baby pleaded to her mother not to let her go before being dropped, but she was caught by men on a sidewalk holding a blanket. The plaintiff then jumped out of the window herself. She told reporters, “Once I threw myself out of the window, I fell right on my butt; after that, I don’t remember anything, I was in so much pain.” She suffered broken bones and a back injury and required surgery. The lawsuit claims she suffered spinal fractures. Her boyfriend suffered second- and third-degree burns. Her daughter suffered from smoke inhalation.

As defendants, the case lists the building owner as well as the company he owns. It also lists the building’s property management company, which is based in Springfield.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants failed to reasonably and safely maintain the property, in that they negligently allowed a condition to exist on the premises that resulted in the fire. Furthermore, they allegedly failed to install and maintain working fire alarms and other fire suppression systems. The two-pronged argument focuses on:  (1) the negligent maintenance of the building, and (2) the lack of adequate alarms and fire protection.

According to the Massachusetts fire marshal’s office, the owner was issued a $100 citation for failing to have the system inspected annually.

The family has accrued more than $100,000 in medical bills, according to court filings, of which $95,000 has gone to the plaintiff’s injuries.

The defendants have not returned requests for comment. When various reporters tried to reach the property management company, the person who answered indicated the callers had the wrong number.

If you have been hurt in a fire, you may need the assistance of a premises liability lawyer to seek compensation. At the Neumann Law Group, our Massachusetts attorneys provide trustworthy legal representation to victims all over the state. Contact us toll-free at 800-525-NEUMANN or use our online form to set up a free consultation.

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