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Quincy Wrongful Death Lawsuit Seeks $10 Million Over Deadly Blaze Inside Illegal Apartment

The Massachusetts wrongful death lawyer of a woman whose husband and two sons were killed in a fire at an illegal apartment is seeking to attach the assets of landlords Jinny Xiu Ma and Andy Huang. The two property owners are the defendants of the $10 million wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of 27-year-old Terri Knight. Knight, who survived the fire, remains in intensive care in Boston. The blaze, which occurred on March 25, claimed the lives of Knight’s spouse, 37-year-old Oudah Frawi, and the couple’s sons, Ali, 1, and Hussein, 1 month.

The fire took place in the family’s basement apartment which, authorities say, was illegally constructed. The unit did not have a safe escape route, lacked smoke detectors, and the house the apartment was in was illegal wired with just four utility meters when in fact six meters were needed because there were six units in the building. The blaze broke out when a sofa in the apartment caught fire, emitting toxic, thick smoke. Knight’s Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit contends that the family’s apartment was negligently maintained, illegal, and lacked rudimentary protections.

Following the tragic deaths of Knight’s family members, Quincy fire officials began cracking down on illegal apartments. On Freeman Street, they evacuated basement apartments in two houses after discovering six illegal units. They say the code violations at these buildings were some of the worst they had ever seen.

Unfortunately, the increase in home foreclosures and the loss of jobs are causing illegal apartments to becoming an issue of growing concern in cities throughout Massachusetts, including Boston, Lynn, Chelsea, and Milford, with immigrants an easy target for landlords and tenants wanting to make a few bucks. Now, safety officials in different cities are cracking down on these illegal residences to avoid future tragedies such as the one experienced by Knight and her family.

Landlords can be held liable for Massachusetts premises liability if they create or fail to remedy a hazardous condition on a property or in a building that causes personal injury or wrongful death.

Hearing held in Quincy wrongful-death suit, Patriot Ledger, April 9, 2009
Risks grow with spread of illegal apartments, Boston.com, March 27, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Wrongful Death, The General Laws of Massachusetts
Premises Liability, Justia