Men, women, children, and families—all of whom were living in a shelter with medical and emotional histories including attempted suicide, leukemia, marijuana dependency, drug addiction, and abusive childhoods.Against overwhelming odds, they were putting their lives back together. Unfortunately, yet another challenge awaited them, one that would remain with them for the rest of their lives. On April 15, 2011, a fire broke out within the shelter, their home.In an effort to resolve a lawsuit for personal injury on their behalf, yesterday was a sort of reunion as we met together with a professional mediator and a legal representative of the facility manager to negotiate fair compensation for what they went through that day.
The Homeless Shelter Fire and Its Aftermath
At 5:00 a.m., a fire broke out in the room of a young paralyzed girl whose grandmother had stepped out of the apartment. The fire, which was an accident caused by faulty electrical wiring, spread rapidly, and the young girl had no way to escape it as she could not move. She yelled as loud as she could for her neighbor, who ran across the hall and did her best to pull her away from the flames. The neighbor's 16-year-old son then carried her down the nine floors of the building. Once she was out of harm's way he wasted no time in re-entering the building to help his mother escape the flames.Meanwhile, another neighbor, a young woman with a 4-year-old son, was trapped in her room as the flames and smoke filled the halls. She dialed 911 and stood by the window looking for help. As she explained, unthinkable thoughts ran through her head, "Would the building burn down?" "Too far to jump!" Her son had asthma, and she did her best to keep his head out the window to breathe what little clean air there was. Thankfully New York's bravest came to her rescue. As the smoke and breaking glass were falling around them, a hook & ladder plucked her and her son from nine stories up.Burns, smoke inhalation, and post-traumatic stress disorder such as nightmares and fears set off by sirens in the night are some of the consequences they live with. The good news is that over the years almost everyone is in a better place. Some have jobs and their own apartments. One woman has her wedding coming up. Most have overcome their demons. Sharing stories, photos, and catching up on old times made it a special day. In many ways, the mediation had a happy ending.The accident and injury attorneys of the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm serve clients in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. We invite you to contact us with any questions you may have about accident and injury law.