Panish Shea & Boyle LLP attorneys Rahul Ravipudi, Ian Samson and Adam Ellis as well as attorney Ben Wilson of Morgan & Morgan P.A. have filed the first wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the sister-in-law of Tracy Ann Cihal, a 57-year-old widow who tragically died last month while trying to escape from the blazing inferno at the Alpine Motel Apartments in Las Vegas, Nevada. The complaint, filed in Clark County District Court against Las Vegas Dragon Hotel LLC — the owner and operator of the Alpine Motel Apartments — and its managing member Adolfo Orozco, alleges negligence and wrongful conduct that led to Mrs. Cihal’s horrific death.
“The injuries and death of our client and the other victims of this fire are inexcusable — and we believe, preventable,” said co-counsel Rahul Ravipudi and Ben Wilson in a joint statement. “The owners and managers of the Alpine – and other properties around Las Vegas – appear to have been far more concerned about taking money from their tenants than they were about their safety. It is inconceivable that residents of the Alpine were forced to endure the conditions of this complex. As alleged in our complaint, the most basic, minimum standards of living and habitability were denied to our client and other victims of this tragedy. We will work to hold these defendants accountable for their pure indifference to human life and safety.”
Affectionately known as “Mama Bear” by members of her Downtown Las Vegas community, decedent Tracy Ann Cihal resided in a first-floor apartment at the Alpine Motel Apartments – a 42-unit complex owned, operated and managed by Defendants. On December 21, 2019, Mrs. Cihal and her neighbors were forced to flee their home before dawn as it erupted in flames, reportedly sparked by a cooking stove used as a makeshift heater in the absence of an adequate heating system. With no fire sprinklers or alarm to warn of the impending danger, residents attempted to evacuate the three-story complex to safety. Many found that the rear exit door had been barricaded and were trapped in the building. Others resorted to jumping from second and third story windows to escape the flames. In all, 13 people were seriously injured and six (6) others – including Tracy Ann Cihal — lost their lives, making it the deadliest fire in Las Vegas’ history.
Plaintiff alleges Mrs. Cihal’s death was the direct and proximate result of Defendants’ failure to provide its tenants with safe and habitable living conditions — including essential services and/or utilities such as heating – and failed to comply with all statutory requirements and codes governing the maintenance of rental apartment units including an adequate fire suppression system, a fire alarm system, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, or safe means of egress — all in violation of applicable fire codes in the City of Las Vegas. As a result of Defendants’ negligence, the building was in an unsafe and dangerous condition so that instead of protecting the tenants, it actually exposed them to an unreasonable risk of harm and exacerbated, instead of mitigated, the damages caused by the fire.