Class action lawsuit to be filed against owners of LaVista apartment complex that burned down, lawyers say
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - More than a dozen former residents of The Reserve at LaVista Walk, which burned down a week ago, gathered to speak against the building’s owners Saturday morning.
During the press conference, attorney Doug Dean announced that a class action lawsuit will soon be filed against five companies that were responsible for the complex. The property allegedly had problems with its fire suppression systems, including broken control valves and corroded sprinkler heads, that were well-known but not fixed, Dean said.
Alexander Lanz, one of the complex’s residents and also a staff member, said the apartments had multiple issues, like black mold and rats.
“It was disgusting,” he said. “... This is me knowing that we’re doing the right thing, standing up to one of many predatory landlords in Atlanta who think that they’re going to move into town and raise rates, not take care of the buildings and neglect us, not only as business people but as tenants.”
Alyssa Greene, another former resident, said she lost everything — including 100-year-old family recipes, art pieces from since she was 12 and elementary school stuffed animals.
“We should’ve been protected better from this,” she said. “... We are going to do everything that we can to survive this together.”
Hundreds of people were evacuated and dozens lost their homes, the American Red Cross said. The complex is expected to be torn down, according to the fire department.
Two people, Robert Stokes and Charnelle Gunn, face charges of first-degree criminal damage to property and reckless conduct in connection to the fire. Police believe it was caused by fireworks being shot from the building’s roof.
Dean said he believes fireworks had been shot off from the roof before, but the complex did nothing to stop it.
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An Atlanta Police Department officer lost his cat in the fire. Several people were also treated for smoke inhalation — including 5-year-old Audrey Abuna, her mother Judy Abuna said. On Monday, the mother wasn’t sure when her daughter, who has a medical condition, would be released from the hospital.
“I stay positive,” Judy said. “Whatever happens, my daughter keeps me going.”
Check back with Atlanta News First for updates.
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