Lawsuit filed in deadly Shanks Lane apartment fire

Lawsuit filed in deadly Shanks Lane apartment fire
All of the people living in the Shanks Lane apartment building were displaced by the fire. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Burial for the Shanks Lane apartment fire victims. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Burial for the Shanks Lane apartment fire victims. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In December, a Louisville family was killed in what investigators believe was an act of arson.

It happened in an apartment on Shanks Lane in December 2017. A mother and two children were trapped and killed by the fire - and another child, a little girl, was hurt trying to escape.

Family members of the victims are now suing the building owners for negligence, a lawsuit filed on Thursday said. The woman charged with the arson is also named in the suit.

An attorney representing the apartment complex owner said he read the suit on Friday and has proof his client was not negligent.

"This girl has destroyed our family and other families," Carla Harris, a grandmother of two of the victims said in December.

Harris was talking about 26-year-old Danesha Peden, the suspected arsonist.

Criminally, there's no question where investigators have their fingers pointed in the deadly fire. Police said Peden admitted to setting the apartment building on fire with gasoline to get back at someone else, and didn't even know the victims.

Archimeda Riley, 41, Savannah Cooper, 16, and Kameron Harris, 11, all died in the alleged arson.

Peden is a defendant in the family's lawsuit, but she's not alone. Harris, and other relatives like Archimeda's husband Wayne Riley, are among those filing suit. The plaintiffs claim that the apartment complex owner, C3 Holdings LLC, was negligent in the deaths - and in the injury to Skye, a third child who escaped.

Brandon Lawrence, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the lock on the front door was broken and because there had been crime in the area, residents made numerous calls to the landlord to fix it.

"If that lock was properly functioning," Lawrence said, "she [Peden] would not have been able to gain access inside that apartment complex."

The suit also claims C3 Holdings didn't provide working fire safety equipment, adequate sprinkler systems or proper escape routes.

But Allan Cobb, the attorney for C3 Holdings, said that none of the plaintiff's claims are true. Skye told investigators she heard smoke alarms, according to Cobb. He said all alarms in apartment #3 worked, that the building's owner never got information that the lock was broken and, Cobb said, the back windows in the apartment opened.

Cobb also said sprinklers are not required by law for that building.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages and a jury trial.

Copyright 2018 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.