PITTSBURGH – The proprietors of a Pittsburgh apartment complex that allegedly lacked an emergency sprinkler system are now facing a negligence, survival and wrongful death action from the daughter of a woman killed in a fire there last year.

Laray Moton of Allegheny County filed suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 8 versus NDC Real Estate Management, Inc. and Midtown-Towers Associates (doing business as Midtown Towers), both of Pittsburgh.

Moton’s mother, Mary Louise Robinson, lived on the 6th Floor of the Midtown Towers complex in Pittsburgh. At approximately 3 a.m. on May 15, 2017, Robinson was sleeping in her apartment unit when a fire began, which rapidly spread and transformed into an inferno, the suit states. Upon arrival, firefighters determined the blaze was burning hottest on both the 6th and 7th Floors, the suit says.

“Upon information and belief, as Ms. Robinson slept in bed, thick smoke and carbon dioxide filled her apartment, and upon awakening and attempting to exit her apartment, became disoriented as a result of inhaling smoke and carbon dioxide. Simultaneously, her apartment became engulfed in flames like a proverbial funeral pyre,” the lawsuit states.

“Tragically, despite tremendous efforts firefighters, by the time Ms. Robinson was found in her apartment, it was too late. Ms. Robinson literally burned to death. The next day, Laray Moton, Ms. Robinson’s daughter, had to identify her mother’s charred body.”

According to the lawsuit, a previous fire occurred at Midtown Towers on its 13th Floor in 1999. After that fire, local fire personnel recommended that a sprinkler system be installed – a recommendation the defendants are said to have ignored.

“Over the next 20 years, the building owners chose not to install a sprinkler system to protect their tenants, despite knowing the danger posed to their tenants should a fire occur. Thus, it is beyond any credible dispute that Ms. Robinson’s death was completely preventable, had the building owners chosen to install a sprinkler system to ensure the safety of their tenants and the general public,” the suit states.

For failing to take these life-saving measures and related multiple counts of negligence, the plaintiffs are seeking damages from the defendants in excess of the jurisdictional limits of a Board of Arbitrators of the Court, in addition to a trial by jury.

The plaintiffs are represented by Jason E. Matzus and Steven E. Wildberger of Matzus Law, in Pittsburgh.

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas case GD-18-001919

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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