FAIRFIELD, Calif. (CN) – Twenty-seven residents sued a seniors’ home in Vallejo for elder abuse and personal injuries, claiming the building burned 2 years after the Fire Department cited it for faulty alarms. The old-timers say The Ameriland Group did not repair the Casa de Vallejo “in any manner” after it was cited twice, and refused to return their security deposits after the fire unless they released the defendants from liability.
The Casa de Vallejo, a historic Mission-style landmark, was built in 1919 as a YMCA, then became a luxury hotel before it was turned into a senior residence.
The plaintiffs, all of them 65 or older, say the city of Vallejo cited the defendants on Sept. 20, 2006, for fire code violations. They say the city cited the defendants a second time, on Jan. 24, 2007.
They say the “defendants did not repair, retrofit, install or otherwise correct the fire alarm system in any manner that brought the fire alarm system up to code” after either citation.
The building burned on Aug. 15, 2008.
The plaintiffs add: “Defendants, The Ameriland Group, LLC and Ruben Islas Jr., were, inter alia, criminally charged on or about September 8, 2007, in the Los Angeles County Superior Court with 36 counts of violating the Fire Code in the control, ownership, operation, management, and maintenance of 3 residential properties located in Los Angeles County (Superior Court of Los Angles County, case no. 8HY05529), including the same code violations found by the Vallejo Fire Department’s inspection of the Casa de Vallejo property (Counts 1, 11, 14, 19, 26, 27, 35 and 36), providing notice that the Fire Code violations were considered to
present an immediate and significant risk of harm to the persons living in a facility without compliant fire alarm systems, and that repairs, retrofitting, installation or other corrective actions must be taken as soon as feasible to bring the fire alarm system up to code. Defendants did not repair, retrofit, install or otherwise correct the fire alarm system in any manner that brought the fire alarm system at Casa de Vallejo up to code following the September 8, 2007 Los Angeles criminal action.”
The old-timers say the faulty fire system delayed the Vallejo Fire Department’s response, and delayed their evacuation. They claim the defendants’ acts and omissions were “willful and despicable and constitute ‘malice’ as defined in Civil Code §3294(c)(1).”
They add: “Defendants, and each of them, following the August 15, 2008 fire at Casa de Vallejo, refused to return the security deposits paid by plaintiffs, and each of them, to obtain residence at Casa de Vallejo until after forcing plaintiffs, and each of them, to sign release of liability forms, releasing defendants, and each of them, from liability related to the fire at Casa de Vallejo.”
Defendants include Ameriland Group LLC, Islas and four other people, Vallejo Housing Partners LLP, Logan Property Management and Ameriland/Vallejo LLC.
The plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages. They are represented by Robert Barnett.