On October 10, 2010, a fire broke out in an apartment complex in a commercial building. The source of the fire was in one of the tenant's apartments, where it was later learned that the tenant regularly disarmed the smoke detector.
A 43 year old man who resided in the apartment, in a multi-unit apartment on the fourth floor, woke up to smoke in the apartment. No smoke alarms had gone off yet, according to his and other tenants' testimony. He ended up tying himself up outside his apartment in an attempt to escape the smoke, but eventually fell and suffered severe injuries. He was in a coma for approximately two weeks; suffered cognitive defects including short term memory loss; and permanent cognitive dysfunction related to the head injury.
Suit was brought against both the property owner and the property manager. Despite assurances that the smoke detectors were checked each time someone moved into an apartment, and testimony from the first responders that smoke alarms were in full effect when they reached the apartment, evidence was presented that the property manager and owner never did checks of the smoke alarms after a tenant moved into an apartment and the tenant whose apartment was the origin of the fire had lived there for three years. Additionally, the building owner and manager were cited for the state Fire Marshall's office. The plaintiff's fire expert opined that the smoke detection system did not operate in a manner sufficient to alert the occupants to evacuate the building.
In the end, the defendants settled for $1.5million.
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