A year after 22-year-old Binland Lee died in an Alston, MA apartment fire, her family is suing the landlord for her Boston wrongful death. Binland, a Boston University student, got trapped in her attic bedroom.
According to her loved ones, the landlord, Anna Belokurova, had rented Lee a bedroom in illegal apartment that had a faulty alarm system and not enough exits. Also named as Alton, MA wrongful death defendants are property owner Belokurova, Gateway Real Estate Group, two real estate brokers, and a real estate agent.
A Boston Globe Spotlight investigation reconstructed that tragic incident in April 2013. It reported ongoing problems of overcrowding at the building.
In an emergency, Lee’s attic unit could only be exited down a flight of stairs, which was blocked by smoke and flames by the time the alarm went off. The Globe’s Spotlight team also found that the apartment was not in compliance with the building code because it lacked two ways out. Its fire-detection system, which did not have the necessary city permit, was either not connected properly or malfunctioned. By the time the warning sound went off on the upper floors it was too late for Lee to escape.
Other residents and guests sustained injuries during the blaze when they jumped out of windows on the third floor. Their injuries included smoke inhalation, a sprained ankle, a fractured back, and a wrist injury.
Lee was found near her bedroom window, with burns on 99% of her body. The official cause of her death was smoke inhalation.
Last month, the Boston City Council approved an ordinance mandating that colleges give the city the addresses of students who don’t live on campus. This should allow the city to stay abreast of buildings and landlords with repeated violations and hopefully prevent another tragic incident like the one that claimed Lee’s life.
Boston Premises Liability
Apartment buildings, their landlords, and representative can be held liable for Boston premises liability if their negligence fails to prevent a fire, a violent crime, or some other injury incident from happening. There may be more than one party that should be held liable.
Read the Complaint (PDF)
Report: Family Of BU Student Killed In Allston Fire To Sue Landlord, Brokers, WBUR, August 20, 2014
Family of BU student killed in fire prepares lawsuit, Boston.com, August 20, 2014
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