Town settles negligence suit

Town settles negligence suit

The township of Teaneck has settled a negligence lawsuit with a Jewish family that lost four children in a March 2005 fire.

Philyss and Howard Seidenfeld will receive $1 million from Teaneck and $1.1 million from its insurance carrier.

Philyss Seidenfeld claimed that firefighters she had called to her home to inspect a loud noise and the smell of smoke should have used a thermal-imaging camera and checked the smoke detectors before declaring the house safe, according to The Record of Hackensack.

Ari, 15, Noah, 6, Adira, 5, and Natan, 4, died in the blaze. A neighbor, Paul Gingras, saved two of the Seidenfelds’ children, 7-year-old Aviva and 14-year-old Zahava, through a second-story window. (For his heroic action, he was awarded a Russ Berrie Making a Difference grant in 2006.) Philyss Seidenfeld and the children’s nanny also escaped.

Another daughter, 17-year-old Helena, was in Israel at the time of the blaze. Howard Seidenfeld was not living in the home; the couple are now divorced.

The local community banded together as Project Ezrah mobilized a support network for the Seidenfelds. National media covered the story, and donations to help the family recover poured in from across the country.

The family’s attorney, David Jaroslawicz, said the firefighters “blew it,” but the township maintains that the firefighters responded to the call with due diligence.

Township officials said they preferred to settle rather than fund a costly legal battle against the grieving family.

JTA/Jewish Standard

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