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Families of MUW students file lawsuit over motel fire


Jason Browne



One wrongful death suit has been filed in the case of four Mississippi University for Women students who died Jan. 16 in a Birmingham-area hotel fire and another may soon follow. 


The parents of Alondan "Angel" Turner and Catherine Ann Muse filed suit Monday in Jefferson County, Ala. Circuit Court alleging negligence on behalf of the Days Inn''s owners, operators and the maintenance man in whose room the fire is believed to have originated. 


The parents of Jaslynn McGee, another of the four deceased women, said Tuesday they would file their own suit in the matter but declined further details. Bernard and Jacquelynn McGee have yet to hire an attorney. 


Alondan "Angel" Turner''s mother, Alondan M. Turner, and Catherine Ann Muse''s parents, Anyea Muse and Dawn Berry, are named as plaintiffs in the suit. Defendants include Papasha Inc., owners of the Days Inn; SPP Inc., operators of the Days Inn; Chris Parekh, one of the owners and the manager of the Days Inn; and maintenance man Dhirajlal Bhagat. 


Bhagat, 55, of India, was reportedly burning incense on a prayer shrine in his room at the hotel. After leaving the room unattended for a half hour, he returned to find the room in flames. Bhagat unsuccessfully used a fire extinguisher in an attempt to put out the fire himself without alerting hotel management or guests. 


Bhagat had been living and working at the hotel for "several years" despite the expiration of his visa. 


The suit also alleges the hotel''s operators "failed to take adequate safety measures to prevent the deaths of the (the students)" for failing to train Bhagat in procedures in case of a fire, "failing to maintain fire extinguishers on the premises" and "failing to provide a safe premises." 


The Hoover, Ala. Days Inn, which was built in 1964 and had been grandfathered in to fire safety codes, was not equipped with a sprinkler system. 


Jason A. Shamblin, of the law firm Cory, Watson Crowder and DeGaris, is named as counsel for the plaintiffs, who are seeking "judgment against the defendants ... in an amount to be determined by a jury along with interests and costs." 


Jamelia Brown, 18, of Grenada, perished in the fire along with McGee, 19, of Corinth, Turner, 18, and Muse, 18. Turner and Muse, both of Cordova, Ala., were cousins. 


Brown and McGee were studying to become nurses. Muse was majoring in theater, and Turner was studying accounting and worked in an on-campus child care center. 


An autopsy determined the victims died of smoke inhalation. All four bodies were found in the bathroom, furthest away from the door. 


Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for the victims at MUW in Columbus, last week. The girls'' funerals were held over the weekend. 







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Reader Comments

Article Comment Omar Guido commented at 1/26/2010 4:08:00 PM:

I am a friend of Catherine Muse (one of the victims), my condolences are to the family. I totally understand them on this situation, and if it were me I would do the same. God Bless the families of all four women.


Article Comment stare k commented at 1/27/2010 4:11:00 PM:


I-888-225- 5726


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