The family of a mother and son who died in an apartment complex fire have taken legal action against the apartment's owners.
Freni Hazare, 48, and her 15-year-old son Dhruv Chokshi were found dead following a fire at the Summerville Station apartment complex in September 2022. Both were residents of the apartment.
A complaint involving the deaths was filed on May 30 on the behalf of Devan Chokshi, Hazare's older son, and Vatsal Chokshi, Dhruv's father, against the managing entities: Summerville Station, Beach Corporation / Company / Real Estate, Lincoln Property Company, and unidentified corporations. Devan Chokshi is representing Hazare's estate and Vatsal Chokshi is representing Dhruv's estate, in addition to representing themselves.
Attorneys Jason S. Stevens and Christopher J. Gramiccioni are representing the Chokshis.
The complaint alleges the apartment's owners breached their duties and responsibilities to properly manage and maintain the property and failed to ensure the safety of Hazare and Dhruv. These allegations include resident complaints of issues with fire extinguishers, issues with smoke detectors, and doors and windows not opening. The complaint specifically notes the fire extinguishers at Hazare and Dhruv's building were stolen and not replaced.
According to the complaint, the September fire engulfed virtually all of Building B and portions of Buildings A and C. The cause of the fire is unknown as of the filing, but the complaint notes it did not start in Hazare and Dhruv's unit and they did not cause the fire.
Based on the 911 calls placed during the fire, it is believed Dhruv witnessed his mother burn to death. A 911 dispatcher directed Dhruv to move towards the window in his bedroom, but Dhruv was unable to open it and also burned to death, according to the complaint.
"The decedents' statutory beneficiaries have lost their care, support, comfort, society, aid, and companionship; have endured extreme mental shock and suffering, wounded feelings, anguish, grief, sorrow, distress, and anxiety as a result of their deaths, and have suffered economic loss due to the loss of Dhruv Chokshi and Freni Hazare," the complaint reads.
The complaint alleges the apartment's owners are liable for negligence / gross negligence / negligence per se in survival and wrongful death action, violation of South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
"Before and after the fire began, the decedents did not receive adequate protection or security; did not receive adequate warning from properly functioning fire alarms, heat detector alarms or smoke detectors; were not protected by any fire sprinkler system; were not provided the basic level of egress from their apartment since the defendants screwed the windows shut, painted windows causing windows to seal, deterioration, and / or due to missing, broken, or otherwise altered window balance springs, thereby preventing the decedents from escaping the fire to safety," the complaint reads.