Berman & Simmons filed a wrongful death lawsuit this week on behalf of the family of David Bragdon Jr., one of six people killed in a Nov. 1 house fire in Portland. The lawsuit claims that landlord Gregory Nisbet was negligent in his upkeep of the house, which apparently had no functioning smoke detectors, and possibly a number of code violations. The case is under review by the Cumberland County District Attorney.
Attorney Steven Silin filed the complaint and motion for attachment at Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland, on behalf of David Bragdon and Pamela Rhodus, the parents of David Bragdon Jr. The lawsuit seeks $4 million for David Bragdon’s family for the loss of his future earnings, the loss of their son’s companionship, and the conscious pain and suffering David endured before he died.
“They’re looking for answers and looking for justice,” Silin told the Portland Press Herald in an interview after the complaint was filed. “It’s fair to say one can imagine few worse ways to leave this world than to be overcome by fire and smoke and be unable to get out.”
The Nov. 1 fire at 20-24 Noyes St. in Portland was the city’s deadliest fire in more than four decades. According to the Bangor Daily News, the building was the subject of 16 complaints by neighbors going back to 2003, including some about buildups of trash and combustibles at the property, and another about the alleged use of third-floor space as a makeshift third living unit in what was recognized by the city as a two-unit dwelling.
The cause of the fire was accidental. Officials said this week that it started on the front porch in a plastic recepticle, which tenants used for cigarette ashes and butts. The fire spread quickly to other combustibles on the porch, and then through the front door, which was apparently open at the time. Five people died of smoke inhalation on the second and third floors of the building. A sixth victim jumped out of a window, but suffered severe burns and died later at a Boston hospital. Officials said there is no timetable for the review by the DA’s office.