Two tenants who lived in the Harlem building where a blaze killed an FDNY veteran filed a lawsuit against Edward Norton’s production company and the property’s owner Tuesday.
On the evening the fire broke out, the St. Nicholas Avenue building, the site of a former jazz club called St. Nick’s Pub, was being used by Class 5 Inc. to shoot “Motherless Brooklyn,” a period crime drama directed by and starring Edward Norton.
Erica and George Cruz, who rented a unit on the fourth floor, contend in their suit that the production company was careless and negligent during the filming, and that the company’s actions led to the destruction of their home and belongings on March 22.
“When representatives of Class 5 Inc. became aware of the fire, they did not warn the tenants in the building,” the complaint said.
The plaintiffs, who are seeking $7 million in damages from Class 5, also accused the building’s owner, Vincent Sollazzo, of failing to have working fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in the building. They are seeking $7 million in damages from Sollazzo as well.
Sollazzo and representatives of Class 5 couldn’t be reached for immediate comment Tuesday evening. In a Facebook post written after the fire, Norton said his crew worked rapidly to help people escape the building.
“Our fantastic 1st [assistant director] was the first to notice the smell of smoke before anyone even saw it and it was he and others on the crew who acted decisively and quickly to try to locate the source of the smoke, evacuate cast and crew, call the fire department and then rapidly move our equipment and vehicles away so that the FDNY had clear access,” Norton wrote.
Michael Davidson, a 15-year FDNY veteran and father of four, died of smoke inhalation while fighting the blaze, which is still under investigation. He was laid to rest on Tuesday after a funeral service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.