$1,650,000 Awarded to Family of Wrongful Death Victim

On January 17, 2004, a fire started at 3030 Emmons Avenue in Brooklyn. 3030 Emmons Avenue is a 7 story, 124 unit residential high rise overlooking Sheepshead Bay. Lester Walton, 67 years old, and his wife Ann Walton, 66 years old, resided on the 6th floor of the building.

During the early morning hours Lester Walton woke up to the smell of smoke. He yelled for his wife to get up and get dressed, telling her to go out on the fire escape. Mr. Walton ran in to the hallways to try and alert his neighbors. He raced up and down the hallways, yelling and banging on the doors of his friends and neighbors, desperately trying to wake them. The smoke from this five-alarm fire soon began to overcome Mr. Walton. He was found on the floor, unconscious, not breathing and without a pulse within a half hour of the fire starting. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. Expert Forensic Pathologists opined that he was overcome by smoke within a range of 2 to 15 minutes. Neighbors hailed him as a hero to the press. Mrs. Walton was rescued from the fire escape.

A law suit was brought against the building owners. The fire started in a first floor apartment unit that a tenant resided in. The tenant, now deceased due to the fire, fell asleep while smoking a cigarette. The Plaintiffs alleged and proved that the building owners violated the Building Code by not properly connecting and fireproofing a shaft and vent in the bathroom where the fire began. This allowed the fire to accelerate at a rapid pace, not giving the Fire Department the chance to extinguish the fire.
The case settled for $1,650,000 on the eve of trial.
The settlement included compensation for Mr. Walton's suffering and the pecuniary losses to his estate as well as Mrs. Walton's claim for post traumatic stress disorder.

Stephen J. Murphy & Sean Constable handled the case on behalf of the firm.