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AvalonBay real estate firm hit with class-action lawsuit after massive NJ fire

You lease a nice apartment and pay your rent.  You take solace knowing that your rent money is wisely spent on a safe, comfortable and well maintained residence.  You pay that rent to ensure that you, your family and your pets will have a place to call home.  You depend on the property and feel good knowing it is well built and will be there every time you return home.  You can put your mind at ease knowing that all of your personal property is safe.

Then the unthinkable happens.  Your safe and comfortable home is ripped away from you in an instant.  All of your possessions are reduced to a pile of ash.   This is the devastating result of a fire.  Worse yet, a fire that could have been avoided by taking the appropriate steps from the time the apartment building was constructed and throughout the life of the building afterward.  When you rent that apartment you assume that the construction of the building was done in a safe manner, and all of the correct materials were used.  This must be the case since the building passed inspections, right?  Any subsequent construction will likewise be done in a safe and prudent manner, right?  After all, any additional work must also pass inspection, right?   Plus, if anyone does any work or construction on the building they will definitely follow all of the rules and proper protocol to keep everyone safe, right?  If something goes wrong and a fire is started surely everyone involved will know what to do to minimize the damage, right?  My insurance company will fight for me and pay me back, right?

Unfortunately, too many people find out that these assumptions are incorrect only after the damage is already done.  They find out that builders often cut corners to save money and what looks nice and shiny on the outside only hides the shoddy work existing behind the walls.  Also to save money owners and landlords cut corners and hire contractors who skip safety protocols and ignore well established safety rules so that the job can get done faster and cheaper.   This is the reality that now faces approximately 1,000 residents of the Avalon at Edgewater luxury apartment complex who were victims of a 7-alarm fire last week and are now homeless.  A recent civil lawsuit filed in Bergen County Superior Court is seeking damages on behalf of these residents for economic losses suffered due to the actions of the real-estate firm AvalonBay.  It is alleged that AvalonBay maintenance workers caused the fire when they were performing plumbing work with a blowtorch.  The allegations also state that the workers who caused the fire delayed a call to 911 for 15 minutes.  The allegations also claim that the negligent workers misrepresented the severity of the fire as “minor”.  This “minor” fire eventually destroyed 230 luxury apartment units.

The complaint also mentions statements made by local firefighters and other officials condemning the lightweight wood construction used to build this luxury apartment complex.  Safer methods of construction and less fire-prone materials are available to builders but at a higher cost.  In fact, this same complex was engulfed by a massive fire back in 2000 when it was still under construction.   Just as in this latest fire, nearby homes and property were also damaged by the fire.  The previous buildings destroyed in that earlier fire were also made of cheaper, lightweight wood material.  A jury found the company liable in 2005 and paid $6 million in settlements to the homeowners.

Tenants in any building have the right to feel safe and secure, especially when they are paying rent to ensure that the property will be well maintained.  When a tenant loses everything because of somebody else’s negligence, that tenant often needs the assistance of an attorney to help obtain compensation for their losses.  People are emotionally vested in their possessions and property, and when these disappear suddenly the mental anguish can be crippling.  Tenants need someone who can recoup their losses and who know how to navigate the legal system in order to make them completely whole again.  Otherwise, instead of rebuilding their lives, these tenants will be spending all of their time fighting with insurance companies and defense attorneys who will be doing everything they can to point fingers at everyone other than their clients.  Somehow theses tenants will be convinced that no one is to blame and that they should just live with the loss and move on.  Tenants need legal representation to fight for them and to make things right so that they can rebuild their lives.

If you or anyone you know were victims of the Avalon at Edgewater fire and have questions regarding your legal rights please contact the Bergen County accident lawyers at Clark Law Firm and we can assist you.

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