The Barbados Fire Service has been sued for negligence by the families of five of the six Campus Trendz young women who perished in the City store fire of September 3, 2010. The fire department is named along with the Chief Fire Officer himself, the Minister of Labour, the Chief Labour Officer, the Attorney General and Campus Trendz proprietor Bibi Shameela Ally.
In the suit filed in the Supreme Court on August 30, the Fire Service is accused of failing to attempt, or failing to take reasonable and appropriate measures to enter the building housing the Campus Trendz store to provide escape route for the trapped women. The claim against the fire department also alleges a breach of statutory duty by “failing to break the structure of said building in sufficient time” and “delaying too long before taking reasonable and appropriate measure to rescue the persons trapped within the burning”.
Also named in the claim are Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall and the Chief Labour Officer. The two are accused of failing to carry out suitable and timely inspections of the shops located in Tudor Street, including Campus Trendz, to ensure that they had been equipped with adequate fire escapes, firefighting equipment and fire plans, or fire escape systems, in the event of a fire . . . .
“Failing to prescribe proper fire escape plans and systems for the shops located in Tudor Street . . . . Failing to take any reasonable steps to ensure that the occupiers of the shops . . . had proper fire escapes, firefighting equipment, and fire escape plans and systems in place.”
The Minister of Labour and Social Security is also named in the claim, accused of failing “to make, in a timely manner or at all, any or any effective regulations in respect of the obligation for shops in Barbados to have proper and suitable firefighting equipment in place on their premises, and, or proper and suitable fire escapes and, or proper and suitable fire plans or systems in place”.
At a Press conference on today, David Comissiong, who is the coordinator of the September 3rd Foundation and attorney-at-law for three of the families of the six deceased –– Kellisha Ollivere, Nikita Belgrave and Tiffany Harding –– confirmed that five claims had been filed, three on behalf of his clients, the other two on behalf of Kelly-Ann Welch and Shanna Griffith.
“To the best of my knowledge the only one of the deceased for whom a suit was not filed was the Guyanese-born deceased Pearl Cornelius, which might have to do with the fact her relatives are not in Barbados.
“. . . We are bringing these claims under two Barbados laws. One is called the Accident Compensation Reform Act and the other is the Law Reform Miscellaneous Provisions Act. They govern the bringing of cases in a situation of wrongful death,” the attorney said, as he revealed sections of the Shops Act under which the claim against government was being pursued.
The suit was filed on Auguist 30, and so far four of the five claimants have already been served papers.
The Attorney General would have received his papers on August 24, while the proprietor of Campus Trendz, Ally, was served on August 25.
Renaldo Anderson Alleyne, who was sentenced to six life sentences after pleading guilty last year and Jamar Dwayne Orlando Bynoe, who is in prison awaiting trial on six counts of murder, were served at Dodds Prisons on October 28.
Comissiong said efforts were still being made to locate the owner of the building, Kaliash Pardasani, to serve him with his papers.