FARGO (AP) - The parents of a Fargo man who died after an apartment fire nearly two years ago have filed a wrongful death lawsuit accusing the building managers of failing to maintain a working smoke detector.
Dwayne and Donna Peyton are seeking at least $100,000 in a complaint that claims Goldmark Property Management Inc. is responsible for the death of their son, James Peyton. The company said in its response filed Monday that it is not at fault and the complaint should be thrown out of court.
James Peyton, 31, slept through the fire on Jan. 29, 2012, and died as a result of smoke inhalation, according to the complaint. Timothy O'Keeffe, attorney for Dwayne and Donna Peyton, said the family decided to file the lawsuit after the company's lawyers declined to negotiate a possible settlement.
"There's never been any attempt on their part, that I'm aware of, to resolve this," O'Keeffe said of the defendants.
Lance Schreiner, a lawyer for Goldmark, did not return a phone message left Tuesday by The Associated Press.
James Peyton and his roommate complained to Goldmark prior to the fire about the smoke detectors, the lawsuit says. Some of them were removed by a maintenance worker but never repaired or replaced, according to the complaint.
O'Keeffe said Tuesday the fire started in the kitchen and Peyton was sleeping in the living room. The only functioning smoke detector was in one of the bedrooms, the Fargo attorney said.
Goldmark said in its written response that it was not the company's duty to maintain smoke detectors in Peyton's apartment and his death was "the result of his fault or the fault of others" whom Goldmark exercised no control or maintained no legal responsibility. It did not elaborate.
Goldmark agreed with a statement in the complaint that the company "had a duty to maintain a safe living environment," but denied it was responsible for "negligent and deliberate acts" that resulted in Peyton's death.
The complaint seeks at least $50,000 for medical bills, expenses and memorial and cremation costs, and at least $50,000 for other damages including emotional distress, suffering and loss of companionship.
Goldmark specializes in residential and commercial property management in North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.