July 17, 2008

Fire Victims’ Family Sues Pike Co. Business

By Cassondra Kirby-Mullins, The Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.

Jul. 17--Family members of a mother and son killed in an apartment fire in Pike County have filed a lawsuit against the building's owner.

Tammy Lockhart, 41, and her son Justin, 17, died from smoke inhalation in the blaze that broke out on July 8, destroying all nine apartments in the two-story building on Hibbard Street, Pike County Deputy Coroner Zeb Hampton said.

State fire officials have said the fire, which began in the Lockharts' living room, was accidental and appears to have been caused by an electrical problem.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by Tammy Lockhart's father, Rex Lockhart, was first reported by the Appalachian News-Express.

The lawsuit blames the owner of the building, William E. Justice Realty Company, Inc., and its operator, Cornelius A. Justice, for failing "to provide a safe and adequate living environment resulting in the deaths."

Cornelius Justice's father -- who has the same name as his son -- said Thursday that the family had not yet seen the lawsuit and did not want to comment at this time.

The suit seeks a jury trial and compensation for medical expenses and economic loss of the defendants, as well as compensation for the fright, pain, suffering and mental anguish of the Lockharts before their deaths. It also asks for punitive damages from the defendants "to deter future conduct."


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