Fire death prompts lawsuit

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The daughter of a Georgia senior living community resident who died in a fire there a year ago filed a lawsuit Thursday against the community and its parent company, builder, property manager and night concierge, among others.

Barbara Ellington's complaint against the Marshall Square retirement community in Evans, GA, and Resort Lifestyle Communities, based in Lincoln, NE, says Dorothy Carpenter's death was “negligent homicide” and maintains that she “suffered unimaginable physical and mental pain and suffering, disfigurement and ultimately death by fire.” The lawsuit also names as defendants the county in which the community is located as well as several fire and rescue personnel.

Carpenter, 91, was the only resident to die in the June 2, 2015, fire, which is believed to have started near an air conditioning unit on the third floor. The Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire ruled in March that the early-morning blaze was accidental.

Ellington's lawsuit contends that the community's concierge and manager took 17 minutes to notify the fire department, shut off the fire alarm five times and told residents to remain in their rooms as flames spread throughout the complex. Further, according to the complaint, Carpenter should not have been placed in a third-floor apartment because staff members knew that she had “certain physical and mental limitations” that would preclude her ability to evacuate the premises by herself. Had the manager told the fire marshal that Carpenter and some other residents would not be able to leave on their own, the community would have been required to meet additional safety requirements, the lawsuit maintains.

Eleven lawsuits have been filed related to the fire, which displaced more than 80 residents, according to the Augusta Chronicle. The community was demolished and, according to Resort Lifestyle Communities' website, is being rebuilt.

Neither the plaintiff's attorney nor Resort Lifestyle Communities responded to a request for comment from McKnight's Senior Living.

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