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Lawyers say more people could join Richmond fire class action lawsuit

Richmond, Ind. (WISH) — Attorneys representing Richmond residents who are suing a business owner say people are still suffering from coughing and burning lungs nearly two weeks after a massive fire near downtown.

“The black smoke and stuff, it was really close to our house, we could see it blowing over our house and we can smell it, the smell is horrible,” said Roscoe Holder, who was among 2,000 people that evacuated.

“My son, he’s got cerebral palsy and he has all this equipment we are supposed to use for him he’s supposed to use every day, without us being at home he couldn’t really use it.”

Holder lives a block from where the fire started on F. Street. He is one of the plaintiffs suing the owner of the building Seth Smith.

In 2019, the city of Richmond cited Smith’s business because it was a fire hazard. The city’s fire chief told News 8 the building was filled floor to ceiling with plastic which is hazardous when burned.

“Our concern and the reason for bringing this lawsuit is because this was a fire that was going to happen. It was a matter of when, not if it was ever going to happen,” said attorney Trevor Crossen.

2,000 people were forced to evacuate and they are eligible to join the lawsuit according to Crossen. People living outside the evacuation zone, as well as those whose businesses had to shut down because of the fire may also be eligible.
A judge will have the final say on whether this can be a class action lawsuit.

“Once we know the total amount of the class, the total numbers in the class, as well as what their individual damages are, then we will be able to put a number on what we are seeking in damages,” said Crossen.

Attorneys are also considering adding the city of Richmond to the lawsuit if they determine the city did not do enough to ensure smith took care of the violations in his building.

Anyone who is suffering from the effects of the fire can contact the Crossen Law Firm for legal advice