The mother of one of the Jay Street fire victims is suing the property owner and manager of one of the buildings that burned.
Ethel Roberson, the mother of Robert Thomas, 31, who died in the fire, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County on Aug. 13 seeking $600,000 in damages.
Attorney E. Stewart Jones, of law firm E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, is representing Roberson, who lives in Connecticut. A notice of claim against the city of Schenectady was also filed on her behalf.
Thomas died in the fire at 104 Jay St. on March 6 along with Harry Simpson, 59, Berenices Suarez, 33, and her boyfriend Jermaine Allen, 37. The families of Allen and Suarez have also retained attorneys.
The lawsuit is against property owner Ted Gounaris of Nassau County and property manager Ideal Property Services, located on the Jay Street Marketplace.
The suit alleges “negligence of the defendants in their ownership, service, repair, management, monitoring, inspection, notice to and communication with tenants all with respect to the building.”
The 20-unit building was destroyed by an accidental fire that started in Simpson’s apartment on the fourth floor and spread to neighboring 100-102 Jay St., which had a different owner.
Both buildings have since been demolished and the vacant land filled by Jackson Demolition. The landlords of the buildings still own the property, so it’s unclear what future development might happen there.
The lawsuit is one of several filed against the property owner and manager in addition to more than a dozen notices of claims filed against the city of Schenectady.
The claims — precursors to lawsuits — allege that the city had notice and knowledge of the dangerous and hazardous condition of the buildings.
City Building Inspector Eric Shilling said the Code Enforcement department inspected all 20 units of 104 Jay St. the day before the fire and cited Gounaris for an expired fire alarm system certification. He said that does not mean it wasn’t working, just that it wasn’t certified.
Code Enforcement documents related to the fire remain sealed as the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office continues to investigate the incident. No criminal charges have been filed related to the incident.
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.