Owner Sues Welding Firm Over Deadly Boston Brownstone Blaze

April 24, 2014

The owner of a brownstone where two firefighters were killed in a wind-fueled fire has filed a civil lawsuit alleging negligence by welders working next door.

The Boston Herald reported that the lawsuit was filed this month by the owner of 298 Beacon St. and names as defendants Oliver Realty, owner of the building next door at 296 Beacon St.; D & J Iron Works, the Malden-based welding company; and Guiseppe Falcone, the welding company owner.

City officials have said they believe sparks from the welding work started the fire, which took place March 26 and led to the deaths of Boston Fire Lt. Edward Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy.

The lawsuit was brought by Herbert Lerman, executor of the estate of Michael J. Callahan, which owns the apartment building at 298 Beacon St. It alleges that the welding work was not permitted by the city and there was no fire extinguisher or fire resistant shield on site. It seeks financial damages plus interest and court costs to be determined at trial.

Attorney Frances X. Hogan, of the law firm Lyne Woodworth & Evarts, which filed the lawsuit on April 14 in Suffolk Superior Court, said a judge last week denied its client’s request for a preliminary injunction restraining Oliver Realty from transferring any of its assets.

Hogan said the judge determined that the realty company had adequate insurance. No further court date has been scheduled as the judge awaits the defense’s reply to the lawsuit, she said.

Hogan added that the firm is unaware of any other lawsuits filed against Oliver Realty.

Oliver Realty has said it contracted the work and understood the welding was to be done offsite. A spokesperson said Tuesday that the company was aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment further.

Falcone, the welding company owner, says the fire was a “tragic accident,” according to his lawyer Richard C. Bardi.

“The fire was unintentional,” Bardi said. “My client feels great remorse for the two firefighters and their families, but he does not take responsibility.”

He said Falcone was not at the scene during the fire.

Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said investigations into the fire by the department and by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are ongoing.

“We hope to get both reports by the fall,” he said.

 

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