Judge rules FF widow can sue filmmaker for husband’s death

Lt. Michael Davidson was killed on March 23, 2018, after he was overcome by toxic smoke in the basement of a building being used as a film set


By Rachel Engel

NEW YORK CITY — The widow of a firefighter who was killed battling a blaze in an apartment building being used as a film set is free to sue the filmmaker and his company, a judge ruled earlier this week.

Lt. Michael Davidson was killed on March 23, 2018, the New York Daily News reported, after he was overcome by toxic smoke in the basement of a building being used as a set for “Motherless Brooklyn,” a film starring Edward Norton, Alec Baldwin, Bruce Willis and Willem DaFoe, and involving Norton’s company, Class 5 Inc.

Lt. Michael Davidson was killed on March 23, 2018, after he was overcome by toxic smoke in the basement of a building being used as a set for “Motherless Brooklyn.” (Photo/FDNY)
Lt. Michael Davidson was killed on March 23, 2018, after he was overcome by toxic smoke in the basement of a building being used as a set for “Motherless Brooklyn.” (Photo/FDNY)

Davidson’s widow, Eileen, said Norton’s company, Class 5 Inc., and the landlord of the building were responsible for her husband’s death, arguing that the New York Fire Department had not been aware of alterations made to the building for the set.

Her claim was backed up by an FDNY report released in 2019 that found “highly-combustible movie set materials” fed the fire, and it was concealed from view due to “false plywood walls.”

“The safety report validates the claim,” lawyer Vito Cannavo said. “It demonstrates that the movie company is directly involved. These firefighters were placed in a very dangerous situation and Michael Davidson was killed as a result of their actions.”

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