Two lawsuits, seeking a combined $1.5 billion against the property owners of the Twins Parks North West building that came ablaze on Jan. 9 and killed 17 people, have been moved to Manhattan federal court, according to filings.
The causes of action filed originally in Bronx Supreme Court, were removed by a pair of Dechert lawyers representing building owner Bronx Park Phase III Preservation — a consortium that includes Belveron Partners, the LIHC Investment Group and The Camber Property Group — which bought the property from real estate mogul Rubin Schron’s Cammeby’s International Group Inc. in 2019.
All four entities, including the previous building owners, Cammeby’s International Group, are named as defendants in the two filings, with claimants alleging that both previous and current owners ignored a slew of residential concerns at the 19-story high-rise, including failures to adequately fire proof the facility, to inspect the premises and to allow for proper modes of egress.
One suit, a class action filed by experienced fire litigation attorneys from Ronemus & Vilensky in Manhattan, said the plaintiffs were seeking ”costs and disbursements” of more than $1 billion. The second suit, filed by Edelman, Krasin & Jaye partner Paul Edelman on behalf of Gambian tenant Hullamatou Ceesay, sought punitive and exemplary damages of $500 million, according to the filing.
Throughout its 123 building portfolio, Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC has a total of 11,801 residential units, but within just the last three years had received 2,468 heat and hot water complaints submitted to the city’s 311 service, according to NYC-based tenant-organizing service JustFix NYC. Before the Jan. 9 fire, there were 18 open violations against the property, with 174 total violations levied since new ownership took over in 2020, records filed with the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development show.
A third lawsuit, filed by husband and wife Rosa Reyes and Felix Martinez, who are seeking $1 billion and compensatory damages for alleged negligence and another $2 billion in punitive damages on behalf of themselves and others affected by the fire, remains in Bronx Supreme Court as of Monday.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at email@example.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.