Family members of Mauricio Orellana, a 38-year-old man killed in the January 28, 2015 fire at 22nd and Mission streets that displaced dozens of businesses and more than 60 tenants, have brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the property’s owner and management company.
In the suit, filed in November by Orellana’s cousin Fernando Artiga on behalf of Orellana’s six siblings, alleges that the management company, fire systems company, and landlord failed to maintain the building in fire safe condition. That situation, they allege, lead to Orellana’s death.
“The above-described fire and resulting damages that Decedent was subjected to is of a kind that does not normally occur unless someone was negligent,” the suit claims.
According to reports from tenants after the fire, Orellana rented a closet or a closet-sized room in a one-bedroom apartment of the third floor. The night of the fire, he was likely caught unawares by the fire (as were many other tenants) because no alarms sounded. By the time firefighters reached him, Orellana’s heart had stopped.
A fire investigation later indicated that the fire likely originated at some wiring inside a third-floor wall.
In an answer to the complaint, landlord Hawk Ling Lou’s attorneys wrote that the family failed to state sufficient facts to make a claim, and that the death was not the result of any negligence on Lou’s part, and that Orellana’s own negligence was to blame.
The answer also suggests that if there were defects, the tenant failed to notify the landlord in a timely manner to get the conditions repaired. It also says that the case is past its statute of limitations.
It’s too early to tell whether the case will settle or go to trial – trials for the other five cases brought against Lou regarding the fire are set to begin in June of next year.