Less than a week ago, the city of New York was shaken by an unspeakable tragedy. On the morning of January 9, 2022, a malfunctioning space heater reportedly burst into flames and caused smoke to spread throughout the Twin Parks North West apartment building. As tenants saw the smoke and attempted to flee, the Associated Press reports that safety doors did not operate properly and dozens of people began to suffer the effects of smoke inhalation. Over time, more than 200 firefighters responded to the fire 333 East 181 Street in the Bronx, but 17 people ultimately died.
“This is going to be one of the worst fires we have witnessed here in modern times in the city of New York,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference following the fire.
In the aftermath of the fire, several survivors have argued that this tragedy could have been avoided. Most notably, Rosa Reyes and Felix Martinez have been identified as the lead plaintiffs in a pair of lawsuits levied against the city and the buildings landlords. The couple says that they have endured “pain, shock [and] mental anguish” because of the fire along with “severe and permanent personal injuries and/or property damage.” According to court documents, Perez and Martinez say that landlords and city officials failed to provide the following:
- Safe Fire Escapes
- Operating ‘Steel Doors’
- Functioning Smoke Detectors
“Defendant Bronx had actual notice of defective conditions at the subject premises which caused the fire,” the lawsuit reads, according to Insider.
Together, the couple is seeking to secure $1 billion in compensatory damages and 2 billion in punitive damages on behalf of themselves and “all others similarly situated.”
Neither the city of New York or the building’s ownership group have directly commented on the lawsuit.