CLEARWATER — The family of the 10-year-old girl who was severely burned in a Clearwater house fire is suing their landlord, saying a properly placed smoke alarm would have prevented her injuries.
Makeila Pressley suffered third-degree burns over half of her body on Feb. 23. Her mother alleges that Bernard Adragna did not put a smoke alarm close enough to the room where Makeila was sleeping in accordance with Florida building codes.
"That was a preventable injury," said Jawdet Rubaii, the Clearwater attorney representing the family. "There's no question that if there had been one in her room or it had been close to her room there would have been ample warning for her to get out."
He said Makeila's mother, Davana, heard a smoke alarm beep briefly but didn't notice anything unusual. Later, another relative heard the alarm and saw smoke pouring out of the bedroom where Makeila was sleeping.
Rubaii said the family wants to recover medical expenses and compensation for the girl's suffering.
Adragna, who owns the property at 916 Eldridge St., said he's not the bad guy. He said the house had two working smoke alarms, one about 12 feet from the room where Makeila was sleeping.
Clearwater Fire and Rescue determined the fire was caused by a cigarette thrown on a pile of clothes. The family strongly disputes that.