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Noyes Street victim's family files suit

A judge froze $1.7 million of the landlord's assets.
Firefighters extinguishing the Noyes Street fire.

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The wife of a Noyes Street Fire victim has filed a civil suit against the landlord of the duplex for the wrongful death of her husband. A Superior Court judge then froze the 20/24 Noyes Street landlord's assets in case they are needed to pay out future claims related to the duplex fire that killed six people Nov. 1.

Steven Summers, from Rockland, jumped from the home to escape the fire and sustained severe burns. He was at a Boston hospital for several days before he died. His wife was the one who filed the suit. Summers left behind two children.

Landlord Gregory Nisbet did not respond to the judges order and has 21 days to issue an appeal.

"It is more likely than not that in this action the plaintiff will recover judgment, including interest and costs, in an amount not less than $1.7 million," Justice Joyce Wheeler wrote in the order.

Fire investigators still have not determined what caused the deadly fire, and the civil suit is the first to be filed regarding the fire. Sworn statements in court records show that there were no smoke detectors at 20 Noyes St. and a bookcase blocked a stairway that served as an exit. The State Fire Marshal's office has said that there were nonworking smoke detectors at the residence.

The duplex is in the process of foreclosure because the landlord is behind on mortgage payments. Summers' lawyer said the Noyes Street property was insured for $300,000, which he said it not enough to cover the claims. The lawsuit cites damages that include the loss of Summers' future income, parental guidance and the unusual pain and suffering.