Family sues owner of building where firefighter died

CHICAGO (STMW) -A lawsuit filed Thursday claims the owners of the two-story commercial building where firefighter Daniel Capuano died after falling down an elevator shaft early Monday failed to obtain city work permits.

The wrongful death suit filed by Julie Capuano, Daniel’s wife, says Anilroshi LLC, which owned the brick building, was “obliged to comply with safety and health regulations for construction” set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Chicago Building Code.

Firefighters responded to the fire about 2:40 a.m. at the warehouse in the 9200 block of South Baltimore. The building was under construction and an emergency alert was issued due to holes in the floor, the Chicago Sun-Times previously reported.

Capuano, a 15-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department assigned to Tower Ladder 34, was searching through heavy smoke on the second floor when he fell down an elevator shaft to the basement, Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago told reporters Monday.

A “mayday” call was sent out at 2:56 a.m., signaling a firefighter in distress.

“They were able to remove him quickly and get him on the ambulance,” Santiago said. Capuano had a partner “right next to him” when he fell.

He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead at 4:25 a.m., Santiago said Monday.

The cause of the fire, which was extinguished by 3:55 a.m., remains under investigation, but the city Department of Buildings disclosed late Monday that “unauthorized work” was being performed at the warehouse.

The work being conducted without a permit included complete removal of the elevator and other structural alterations, department spokeswoman Mimi Simon said.

After a full inspection Monday, the department expected to refer violations to the Cook County Circuit Court for prosecution, Simon said

The lawsuit claims Anilroshi LLC was negligent for violating two OSHA and Chicago Building codes regarding unprotected sides and edges around the perimeter of an open elevator shaft; not providing protection from falling; permitting gaping holes on the second floor and near the opening of the elevator shaft; failing to obtain proper permits; and failing to warn occupants on the second floor of the open elevator shaft.

“It’s obvious that the corporate defendant blatantly violated OSHA and the corporate building code,” Robert Napleton, an attorney for Capuano’s family, said. “It cost a world-class husband, father, brother and friend to many his life.”

Capuano is survived by his wife and three children: Amanda, Andrew and Nicholas, “each of whom suffered the profound loss of [Capuano’s] love, affection, care, attention, companionship, comfort, guidance and protection,” according to the lawsuit.

Anilroshi LLC could not immediately be reached for comment.

The four-count lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

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