Edward Norton's Production Company Is Being Sued Over Deadly Fire on 'Motherless Brooklyn' Set
By Tina Smithers Peckham
Edward Norton's production company is being sued for $7 million over the deadly fire that broke out on the set of Motherless Brooklyn in New York City last week.
Two tenants in the Harlem building where the flames broke out have cited "recklessness, carelessness and negligence" by Class 5 Films and are also seeking monetary damages from the building's landlord.
George and Erica Cruz, two siblings who live on the fourth floor of the building where the film, directed by Norton, was being shot, were at home when the fire started in the basement at around 11 p.m. last Thursday. FDNY firefighter Michael R. Davidson was critically injured while trying extinguish the five-alarm blaze and died shortly thereafter.
According to court documents obtained by ET, the Cruzes claim that Class 5, Inc. "maintained highly flammable equipment in the basement of the property," and therefore acted in "recklessness, carelessness and negligence."
The lawsuit also alleges that when production noticed the fire, they did not immediately warn the building's tenants, but instead "misled the tenants into believing there had been a fire that had been extinguished."
As a result of the blaze, the Cruzes' apartment was reportedly completely destroyed. Legal documents also state that the building was poorly taken care of, with hazardous conditions including the failure to have fire extinguishers on site and working smoke detectors.
Erica also claims that she was "required to run for her life down several sets of dark stairs engulfed in smoke," and as a result, "suffered severe and permanent personal injuries including: aggravation and exacerbation of pre-existing asthma, emotional distress and pain and suffering."
In a statement immediately following the fire, Norton and film producers expressed their "deepest condolences" to the family of the deceased firefighter.
"Our deepest condolences to the family of Michael R. Davidson," reads the statement. "A fire broke out tonight in the building where we were shooting our film. Our production was towards the end of our working day and had dozens of people working on site, when our crew noticed that smoke was coming into our set and into other parts of the building from below us."
The statement further notes that production "immediately alerted the fire department and began alerting residents of the building," while evacuating cast and crew.
"To our great sorrow, we now know that a NYC firefighter lost his life battling the blaze that grew, and our hearts ache in solidarity with his family," the statement concludes. "New York City firefighters truly are the bravest in the world. We watched firsthand with astonishment as they charged into the smoke to make sure all were safely out and then fought to contain the blaze and prevent it from spreading, putting their lives on the line as they do every day. The FDNY are real life super-heroes and have our boundless admiration and gratitude."