Dad seeks damages over son's WL fire death – Journal and Courier
The father of a Purdue University student killed in November in a rental house fire in West Lafayette has filed a tort claim notice, seeking damages for wrongful death up to the $700,000 limit allowed by law.
Scott Notary, 23, died Nov. 16, 2013, when the house he was renting in the 100 block of Lutz Avenue caught fire.
Notary’s father, David Notary, recently served the city with a tort claim notice, City Attorney Eric Burns confirmed Wednesday.
The city has 90 days to approve or deny the claim. If the claim is denied, a lawsuit can be filed. The tort claim notice is a necessary step should such a lawsuit be contemplated and must be filed within 180 days of the incident causing the injury or death.
Notary declined to comment when asked Wednesday about the claim.
The fire is believed to have started in kitchen area, fire Chief Tim Heath said last month. Precisely how and where the fire started are still unknown, Heath said then. The fire has been ruled accidental.
Notary’s tort claim notice alleges the loss of his son was a “house fire caused more than likely by negligence in the building inspection(s), maintenance, repair and/or operation and use of the electrical system and/or appliances in the kitchen area of the property.”
West Lafayette Development Director Chandler Poole confirmed an earlier J&C report that his office had inspected the house in July and issued a rental certificate. During the survey, there were no problems found.
According to the J&C’s report in November, the only note on the July 9 inspection read, “prior recommendation for exterior paint has been done.” The report was signed by inspector Vikki Watkins, who Poole said has been doing such rental inspections for more than a decade.
According to county records, the house is owned by Calvin Stein and Alex Sabol. The Journal & Courier’s attempts to contact them for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful. They are not named in the tort claim notice.
Burns said the tort claim notice was filed about two weeks ago.
“We’ve sent it on to our insurance carrier,” he said. “They will be making an investigation.”
Poole said the city inspects all rental properties of four units or less at least every two years, looking for structural and other problems. If a property owner chooses to begin renting out his or her house, the city inspects it and issues a rental certificate for one year.
At the end of that year, it is inspected again. If it passes this second inspection, the property owner is issued a rental certificate good for two more years. Larger units, most often managed by professional rental agencies, receive inspections every four years, Poole said.
Contributing: Mikel Livingstonemail@example.com