ROCKLAND — The family of a man who died in a fire at a Rockport motel in December 2019 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that the owner’s negligence caused or contributed to the death of their relative.
The lawsuit was filed in Knox County Superior court Sept. 18 by Theresa Deane and Keith Perkins, family members of the late Kevin Stanley and the personal representatives of the estate, against Scott Perry, owner of the Schooner Bay Motor Inn.
Stanley, 53, of Camden, died Dec. 2 in a fire at the inn on Commercial Street (Route 1). The medical examiner’s autopsy report stated that the cause of death was smoke inhalation.
The State Fire Marshal’s office said in a news release after the fire that Stanley was a smoker and the fire started on his mattress.
According to the lawsuit, Stanley was asleep in his room on the second floor when the alarms, all located on the same floor, were activated. The first alarm was activated at 2:02 a.m., with additional alarms sounding off at 2:10 a.m. and 2:11 a.m. Perry allegedly disabled the fire alarm system for the entire second floor after silencing the third alarm by using a remote control panel from his home several yards away.
At approximately 3:27 a.m., a guest at the inn smelled smoke and called 911.
Camden-Rockport police officer Paul Thompson was a first responder at the scene and pulled Stanley from his second floor room but resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.
Rockport Fire Department, along with more than 30 firefighters from Camden, Rockland, Hope, Lincolnville and Warren, battled the structure fire. By 4:05 a.m., the majority of the flames were knocked down, leaving firefighters to continue checking for hot spots. The fire departments began clearing the scene at approximately 5 a.m.
“Seven other motel rooms were occupied and no other motel guests were injured,” the State Fire Marshal’s report said. “Stanley’s room was gutted by the fire and the two adjoining second floor rooms were badly damaged, as was the roof of the motel and there was extensive water damage. Stanley had lived at the motel for about a month. The motel had working smoke detectors which alerted other occupants.”
The lawsuit alleges that Perry failed to equip the inn, including Stanley’s bedroom, with a sprinkler system or other fire suppression devices, including carbon monoxide detectors.
The attorney for the Stanley family, William Herbert, of Lewiston, issued the following statement by email Sept. 25:
“Kevin Stanley’s children hired Hardy Wolf & Downing to perform an investigation and determine whether we could do anything about their tragic loss.
“At this time, our ongoing investigation suggests that the Inn was not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors or fire-sprinklers; and that although three fire-alarms activated that night, each was apparently silenced before the entire system was disabled. We are not aware of any evidence to suggest that the Innkeeper investigated the source of the fire before silencing the alarms or deactivating the system; or that he ever called 911.”
“We trust our innkeepers and hotel owners to protect us and to do – at the very least – what Maine law requires. Our ongoing investigation suggests that this fire was allowed to burn – uncontrolled and ignored – until 3:30 am on December 2, 2019, about 90-minutes after the first alarm went off, when a guest called 911. The medical examiner puts our client’s time of death shortly thereafter.”
“The family recognizes that there is nothing we can do to bring Kevin back, or to spare him from the unspeakable horror he experienced. The only thing we can do now – the thing that is our mission, as Kevin’s attorneys, family, and members of his community – is to make sure that nothing like this happens in Rockport again; that innkeepers in Maine learn from this senseless tragedy; and that Kevin Stanley and his family receive justice.”
Perry has not filed a response to the lawsuit as of September 24. No attorney is listed for Perry in the court document.
Sarah Shepherd can be reached at email@example.com