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New York Personal Injury Attorneys

SPBMCC Partner Glenn Nick Represents Evergreen Court Fire Victim’s Family

December 6, 2022 in ,

On March 23, 2021, a multiple-alarm fire led to the deaths of a resident and responding firefighter at Evergreen Court in Spring Valley, New Jersey. As a result of the tragic incident, the three sons of Oliver Hueston— a 79-year-old man who was killed in the fire— seek payment for their father’s death with the help of SPBMCC Partner Glenn Nick, who is providing legal counsel. Hueston’s sons, along with the mother of Spring Valley Department Lt. Jared Lloyd, a 35-year-old firefighter who died as a result of a partial building collapse while on the scene, have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the owners of Evergreen Court Home for Adults, Rabbis Nathaniel Sommer, and his son, Aaron Sommer. 

Blow Torch Sparks Fire in Kitchen of Evergreen Court, Causing Several Injuries and Fatalities

Evergreen Court Director Denise Kerr hired the Sommers to cleanse the facility. The Sommers used a blow torch with a 20-pound propane tank to cleanse the facility’s kitchen and ovens for Passover. While they were there, former employee Emmanuel Lema requested that the automatic fire alarm system be set to test mode while the Sommers were cleansing to avoid false fire alarms. The fire erupted shortly after the Sommers left the premises to cleanse another facility. 

It is suspected that the blow torch used to clean the oven ignited embers in the kitchen and started the fire, according to the District Attorney’s Office. It is alleged that due to Lema requesting that the alarm system be placed on test mode, the severity of the fire was greater than it should have been by the time the fire department arrived. The inferno resulted in multiple injuries, including two fatalities.  Oliver Hueston, a father of three, sustained major injuries in the fire, eventually resulting in his death. Lt. Jared Lloyd, a firefighter on the scene that day and father of two, was also killed when part of the building collapsed on him as he and his team rescued over 100 people.

Lawsuit Charges Against Evergreen Court 

The Rockland District Attorney prosecuted the Sommers on counts of manslaughter, reckless endangerment, negligent homicide, arson, and assault. SPBMCC argued in its lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Hueston’s estate that the Sommers did not have a permit to be using a lit torch, neglected to put out a warning when the torch was in use, and did not have protection to avoid sparks. The Sommers pleaded not guilty. Their attorney, Jacob Laufer, argued that they did not knowingly act recklessly under legal criteria; therefore, the counts of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide should be removed.

The prosecution argued that Lema did in fact knowingly act recklessly when he requested the automatic fire alarm system be turned off and that Kerr was aware that the Sommers did not obtain the necessary training or permits to cleanse the facilities. 

“We have filed this lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Hueston’s estate for the unimaginable pain and suffering he endured during the blaze, as well as for the significant loss his estate sustained as a result of his passing,” said SPBMCC Partner Glenn Nick. “In addition to seeking monetary damages, we proudly represent the estate in seeking justice for the late Mr. Hueston.” 

Contact Our Team at SPBMCC If You Have Lost a Loved One as a Result of Negligence 

Families should not have to bury their loved ones due to negligent building owners who fail to follow proper precautions when tending to their facility. This incident could have been avoided if proper protocols, training, and safety measures were upheld.  At SPBMCC, we have extensive experience advocating for the due compensation and justice for our clients and their loved ones who suffered as a result of another’s negligent acts; we also advocate that precautions be improved in care facilities to avoid tragedies, such as the fire at Evergreen Court, from happening in the first place. To schedule a free consultation or to learn more information about how we may be able to assist you, call (212) 732-9000 today.

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