Our attorneys won a $2.9 million settlement on behalf of victims of an apartment fire in Minnesota. The money was used to help surviving children.
A twenty-six-year-old mother of three died along with her six-year-old son. Her daughter suffered severe and permanent brain damage as a result of smoke inhalation. Another son also suffered injury but recovered. Most of the settlement proceeds were earmarked for the young girl, who will require extensive care for the remainder of her life.
Hazardous Product Involved in Fire
The blaze started in an upholstered chair that had recently been purchased at a local mall. The chair was not constructed with materials resistant to small, open-flame ignition sources such as lighters, candles, and matches. At the time, the only state that required flame resistant upholstered furniture was California. Minnesota was one of many states that required flame resistance for upholstered furniture used in commercial settings, but had no similar requirement for residential furniture.
Inoperative Smoke Detector
The smoke detector in the apartment was not operative when the blaze started. If it had been operative, Mr. Pritzker argued, the occupants would have had ample time to escape.
The investigation disclosed that many of the apartments in the building had disconnected smoke alarms. Tenants disabled the detectors because of frequent and annoying false alarms caused by the age and location of the detectors. The landlord was aware of the problem, but did little about it. Testimony from former tenants of the fire-damaged apartment demonstrated that the smoke detector had been inoperative for several years. There was also no evidence that the smoke alarm had been inspected or tested by the landlord, as required by state law.
Source of Fire
The source of ignition was never determined. It may have been one of the children playing with a butane utility match, according to the state and local officials who investigated the case. A re-enactment of the fire proved that it took less than 10 seconds for the chair to ignite when exposed to a small flame.
Free Consultation with a Lawyer
You can call 612-338-0202 to get your free consultation. Attorneys Fred Pritzker, Eric Hageman, and Brendan Flaherty are our lead lawyers for these personal injury and wrongful death cases. We are not paid unless you win.