Motherless Brooklyn writer-director-star Edward Norton will be deposed in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over the fire that broke out on the film’s set. An FDNY firefighter died while battling the blaze, which gutted the building in March 2018.
The suit against the filmmaker’s Class 5 Productions was filed by tenants of the building who were displaced by the fire. The firefighter’s widow and other tenants of the building joined the suit later. Norton will give his deposition on February 20; read the handwritten court document here.
Plaintiffs Erica and George Cruz say they lost everything in the fire that began in the basement, where they say the production “maintained certain equipment, including highly flammable equipment.” The suit — which also names the building’s owner, Vincent Sollazzo, as a defendant — seeks $2 million in real and punitive damages from Class 5 and more from Sollazzo.
The fire started around 11 PM at the five-story building on St. Nicholas Avenue that once housed the St. Nick’s Jazz Pub.
According to the FDNY, the fire, which started in the basement and spread quickly throughout the building, drew 39 FDNY vehicles and 175 firefighters. FDNY Lt. Michael Davidson died while battling the fire. His Engine 39 was the first company to arrive on the scene.
Dozens of Motherless Brooklyn crew members were working at the site Thursday when they “noticed that smoke was coming into our set and into other parts of the building from below us,” according to a statement released by the production (read it below). “As soon as we noticed smoke coming up into our set, our crew immediately alerted the fire department and began alerting residents of the building even as we evacuated our cast and crew.”
Norton stars in the film as a lonely private eye living with Tourette syndrome in 1950s New York City. The pic, which premiered at Telluride in September. Adapted from the Jonathan Lethem novel, it also stars Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin. The pic opened with $3.65 million last month and has grossed $9.3 million domestic.