Woman sues two men for her mother's death after a fire

By Kyla Asbury | May 18, 2010

HUNTINGTON -- A Rush, Ky., woman is suing two Huntington residents after she claims they were responsible for her mother's death.

Tamra Jacob is the administratrix of Deanna Vandixhorn's Estate, according to a complaint filed April 29 in Cabell Circuit Court.

On May 9, 2008, Vandixhorn was sleeping in her apartment, which she leased from Thomas Jarrell May and Thomas Jarrell May Jr., when a fire was started in the foyer of the apartment building, according to the suit.

Jacob claims the defendants allowed a tenant to store mattresses in the foyer area for a long period of time and allowed unlocked access to that area, in violation of state and federal fire codes.

Some time during the evening hours on May 9, an individual set the mattresses on fire in the foyer area directly below and adjacent to Vandixhorn's apartment, according to the suit. The individual set fire to the mattresses in retaliation to acts of Thomas Jarrell May Jr., according to the suit.

Jacob claims the staircase was not protected with a fire door or other protective door, nor where the apartment doors sufficient thickness to withstand heat or fire for any period of time. She also claims the foyer and hallways did not have fire alarms, which violated state and federal fire codes.

Vandixhorn awoke during the fire and called 911 for assistance, however, her means of escape were blocked by fire and/or smoke and she died during the fire, according to the suit.

Jacob claims the defendants were negligent in leasing an apartment in violation of state and federal fire codes and allowing a dangerous condition to exist in the entryway foyer when they knew or should have known they constituted a fire hazard.

Jacob is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by William M. Tiano.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge David M. Pancake.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 10-C-342

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