No amount of money will bring my daughter back to life. But we did get justice for Alisha, and this justice will benefit everybody and hopefully save lives,” said Robert Lamers outside the Milton, Ont., courthouse after the decision was handed down.
Alisha Lamers was trapped in her basement apartment as flames engulfed the rooming house in November 2013. Firefighters pulled her out and took her to hospital, unconscious and badly burned. She died three days later. The coroner’s report said she was brain dead from a severe lack of oxygen.
Janet Moore and Robert Lamers stand near the tree that was a favourite of their daughter, Alisha Lamers, who was killed in a fire in an illegal Toronto rooming house in 2013. On Wednesday a jury decided the landlord must pay her parents more than $1.3 million in damages. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)
According to the coroner’s report, EMS crews at the scene noted she had no vital signs. They were able to get her heart pumping again, but she went into cardiac arrest twice in the ambulance on the way to Toronto Western Hospital.
Failed to ensure a safety plan was “prepared, approved and implemented in the building.” Failed to maintain smoke alarms in operating condition. Failed to have at least two exits for every floor of the home.
An Office of the Fire Marshal investigation had previously found multiple safety violations, including a lack of a working smoke alarm in the basement, bars on the windows and no second exit, as required by law.
The jury determined Moore and Lamers should be given $250,000 each in damages for “the loss of care, guidance and companionship,” another $250,000 each for “mental distress or injury” and over $150,000 each for future costs of care.
He represented himself in the lawsuit.
“It was stupid for sure,” he said. “I had to remove it earlier.”
He later said Lamers wanted the bars on the windows and “could not estimate” how dangerous it was.
Illegal rooming houses are an issue across the country. CBC News gathered data from all jurisdictions that track rooming house fires and found that over a five-year period there have been at least 532 rooming house fires which resulted in 47 deaths.
Alisha Lamers, right, and her mother Janet Moore. Alisha, described by her parents as an adventurous jokester, was 24 when she died and had lived in her apartment for just over one month. (Submitted by the Lamers family)
“No landlord should put their health and safety of their tenants at risk,” Smitiuch said. “I think this sends a very strong message that if you’re going to rent a property for money it better be safe.”
“I feel some relief that the process is over but personally it changes nothing for my life,” Lamers said.
“I’m lost without my daughter. I’ll always miss her. I miss her dearly. I always will. I’m serving a life sentence with the loss of my daughter.”