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Smoke Alarm Inspections in Residential Apartments

Attorneys Mark W. Tanner and Peter M. Newman secured a substantial settlement for the family of a 62 year-old tenant who was trapped in his second-floor apartment in Horsham, PA and died from smoke inhalation and extensive thermal burns in a fire in July of 2020. As part of the settlement, the defendants, who owned and managed the apartment complex, agreed to conduct annual inspections of the smoke detectors in every residential apartment in the complex, and to replace batteries and smoke detectors as necessary, at no cost to the tenants.

The lawsuit filed by attorneys Tanner and Newman alleged that Defendants had a duty to install and maintain a functioning smoke and fire detection system at the apartment complex to alert residents in the event of a fire. They alleged further that it was the Defendants’ duty to inspect and test the smoke and fire detection system on a regular basis and to make repairs and replace batteries as necessary to ensure that the system functioned properly. Because the complex was built in the 1960’s, the Defendants contended that they were not required by any applicable code to install and maintain smoke detectors in the residential apartments, and that it was the tenants’ responsibility to do so pursuant to the terms of the lease. The family of the decedent hopes that the negotiated change in policy and practice will saves lives in the event another fire occurs at the apartment complex.