Residents Of Fire Building Sue Landlords, Film Company For $5 Million In East Harlem

NY Post reports that residents of the Harlem building where Edward Norton and Bruce Willis were shooting a movie before it went up in flames are suing the landlord and the film company for $5 million claiming their “negligence” caused the blaze that took a firefighter’s life.

Erica and George Cruz were living in the top floor of the five-story rowhouse at 773 St. Nicholas Ave. on March 22 when a fire broke out in the basement.

The Cruzes say the production company, Class 5 Films, was storing “highly flammable equipment” in the basement during filming of the Norton-directed “Motherless Brooklyn,” adapted from the 2000 Jonathan Lethem novel of the same name.

“When representatives of Class 5 became aware of the fire, they did not warn the tenants in the building,” the Manhattan Supreme Court suit says.

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“In fact, they misled the tenants into believing there had been a fire that had been extinguished,” the court papers allege.

There were also faulty smoke detectors, no fire extinguishers and improper lighting in the stairwells, the suit says.

“As a result of defendants’ negligence, [the Cruzes] suffered severe and permanent personal injuries,” the suit says.

Erica Cruz, who was in her apartment when the fire started, says the smoke has aggravated her asthma and caused “severe emotional distress.”

The inferno “required her to run for her life down several sets of dark stairs engulfed in smoke unable to breathe or see where she was going while fearful of falling with each step,” the suit says.

The Cruz family also lost all their belongings including her child’s artwork, her graduate school textbooks, and her rent-controlled apartment.

The blaze killed Firefighter Michael Davidson, a father of our, whose funeral drew thousands of mourners to St. Patrick’s Cathedral Tuesday.

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