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Harlem woman sues Edward Norton and his production company for $7million

A Harlem woman has filed a $7million lawsuit against Edward Norton and his production company after a deadly fire broke out on set during the filming of his movie Motherless Brooklyn, killing a New York firefighter.

The fire broke out last Thursday in a five-story building that was home to the former St Nick’s Jazz Pub, which closed in 2011.

Norton was the one who spotted the fire that killed Michael Davidson, 37, of Harlem’s Engine Company 68, when he saw smoke coming from the basement of the building as the crew were setting up to shoot a night-time scene.

The woman says in the suit against Class 5 Films that she was in her apartment when the fire started. 

  

A Harlem woman has filed a $7million lawsuit against Edward Norton (left) and his production company after a deadly fire broke out on set during the filming of his movie Motherless Brooklyn, killing a New York firefighter. Bruce Willis (right) stars in the movie 

The fire (pictured) broke out last Thursday in a five-story building that was home to the former St Nick's Jazz Pub, which closed in 2011

The fire (pictured) broke out last Thursday in a five-story building that was home to the former St Nick’s Jazz Pub, which closed in 2011

Norton was the one who spotted the fire that killed Michael Davidson, 37, of Harlem's Engine Company 68, when he saw smoke coming from the basement of the building as the crew were setting up to shoot a night-time scene. Firefighters pictured at the scene 

Norton was the one who spotted the fire that killed Michael Davidson, 37, of Harlem’s Engine Company 68, when he saw smoke coming from the basement of the building as the crew were setting up to shoot a night-time scene. Firefighters pictured at the scene 

The woman says in the suit that she was in her apartment when the fire started. She claims that she was told by a member of Norton's production crew that the fire had been extinguished, when it actually hadn't

The woman says in the suit that she was in her apartment when the fire started. She claims that she was told by a member of Norton’s production crew that the fire had been extinguished, when it actually hadn’t

She claims that she was told by a member of Norton’s production crew that the fire  had been extinguished, when it actually hadn’t, according to TMZ. 

In the suit, the woman says she had to ‘run for her life’ down dark stairways, engulfed in smoke, fearing she would die.  

The woman made it to safety but says all of her belongings were destroyed, including grad school text books, jewelry and all of her forms of personal ID.

She also claims in the suit that Norton’s production company had ‘highly flammable equipment’ in the basement, TMZ reported.  

The woman is suing Norton’s company Class 5 Films and the building’s landlord for $7million.

More than 200 firefighters responded to the blaze that occurred on the set of Bruce Willis’ new film Motherless Brooklyn last Thursday.

In the suit, the woman says she had to 'run for her life' down dark stairways, engulfed in smoke, fearing she would die. The woman made it to safety but says all of her belongings were destroyed, including grad school text books, jewelry and all of her forms of personal ID 

In the suit, the woman says she had to ‘run for her life’ down dark stairways, engulfed in smoke, fearing she would die. The woman made it to safety but says all of her belongings were destroyed, including grad school text books, jewelry and all of her forms of personal ID 

The film's star and director, Ed Norton (right, on the night of the fire) raised the alarm after spotting smoke

The film’s star and director, Ed Norton (right, on the night of the fire) raised the alarm after spotting smoke

The film crew were inside the building on the ground floor, with actors dressed up in period costumes for a scene in the movie, set in the 1950s, when it broke out in the basement of 773 St Nicholas Avenue.

‘We were inside when the fire started and everybody came out panicking,’ actress and model Angelica Guillen tweeted after the incident, adding that they ‘were all there and we are safe’ 

Hero: Michael Davidson, 37, a father-of-four and a 15-year veteran of the FDNY was killed in the blaze Thursday night 

Hero: Michael Davidson, 37, a father-of-four and a 15-year veteran of the FDNY was killed in the blaze Thursday night 

Guillen also offered her condolences to firefighter Davidson’s family after he died while battling the blaze. 

Davidson became separated from his crew as the firefighters desperately tried to extinguish the fire.

A mayday call was made and Davidson was found. He was rushed to Harlem Hospital but died at 12.16am, early Friday morning.  

Davidson, a married 15-year-veteran with the FDNY and father of four young daughters, was reportedly the first fireman into the building and suffered serious injuries after becoming separated from his crew. 

New York Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the blaze erupted in the basement of an unoccupied residential building about 11pm Thursday.

‘They went down the stairs to fight the fire with Davidson as nozzelman,’ Nigro said last week.   

The film crew were inside the building on the ground floor, with actors dressed up in period costumes for a scene in the movie, set in the 1950s, when it broke out in the basement of 773 St Nicholas Avenue 

The film crew were inside the building on the ground floor, with actors dressed up in period costumes for a scene in the movie, set in the 1950s, when it broke out in the basement of 773 St Nicholas Avenue 

The fire was extinguished at around 2.30am on Friday 

The fire was extinguished at around 2.30am on Friday 

Eric Phillips, a spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, was at Harlem Hospital when Davidson's family arrived, and posted this poignant tweet 

Eric Phillips, a spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, was at Harlem Hospital when Davidson’s family arrived, and posted this poignant tweet 

‘They encountered heavy fire and they did the best they could. The fire continued to advance. Units were forced to back out of the building. Somehow while backing out of that building, firefighter Davidson was separated from the rest of the unit. 

‘The search ensued. Members tried desperately to find firefighter Davidson and when they did he was unconscious.

‘Despite the best efforts of the members of our fire fighting forces, EMS and here at the hospital, they were unable to revive Michael and he perished.

‘Our entire city mourns his loss.’

Willis and Norton (pictured on set) both star in Motherless Brooklyn 

Willis and Norton (pictured on set) both star in Motherless Brooklyn 

The fire was extinguished at around 2.30am on Friday.

Eric Phillips, a spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted early Friday morning: ‘This is an awful night. We’ve lost an NYC firefighter. Sick to my stomach. 

‘He’s a hero firefighter. No words. 4 young kids.’ 

Phillips was at the hospital when Davidson’s family arrived, and added: ‘You haven’t heard a scream until you’ve heard the scream of a mother who’s seen her son give his life to protect us.’

Hundreds gathered at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown on Tuesday, to say their final farewells to Davidson. 

His body was cremated following the funeral service at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Davidson’s casket arrived on the back of his fire truck, Engine 69, shortly before 10am, covered in a red FDNY flag.

Firefighters lined the streets surrounding the cathedral, which had been closed off for the occasion, while members of the FDNY’s Emerald Society band solemnly banged their drums.

Davidson’s family, including widow Eileen Davidson, the mother of his four children, were seen arriving at St Patrick’s. 

Bruce Willis is pictured on set of Motherless Brooklyn last month

Bruce Willis is pictured on set of Motherless Brooklyn last month

An actress in the film wrote on Twitter that the crew had been inside filming a scene when the fire broke out

An actress in the film wrote on Twitter that the crew had been inside filming a scene when the fire broke out

Eileen, who was wearing dark shades, appeared to be visibly upset. Eileen and her children followed the casket out of the church after the moving service, before the widow was presented with her husband’s helmet.

Last week, two other firefighters suffered burns while battling the blaze and were reported to be in serious condition. 

Three civilians were also injured in the fire, which broke out in the basement of the building where which formerly housed St Nick’s Pub, a famous jazz bar that closed down seven years ago.

Neighbors told the New York Daily News that the film crew had turned the street into a 1950s set, using the bar as a ‘jazz club’ around two weeks ago.

Firefighters lined the streets surrounding the cathedral, which had been closed off for the occasion, while members of the FDNY's Emerald Society band solemnly banged their drums. Davidson's family, including widow Eileen Davidson (center), the mother of his four children

Firefighters lined the streets surrounding the cathedral, which had been closed off for the occasion, while members of the FDNY’s Emerald Society band solemnly banged their drums. Davidson’s family, including widow Eileen Davidson (center), the mother of his four children

The casket of New York City firefighter Michael Davidson is carried on a fire truck down Fifth Avenue, which is lined by firefighters, as it left St Patrick's Cathedral after his funeral Tuesday

The casket of New York City firefighter Michael Davidson is carried on a fire truck down Fifth Avenue, which is lined by firefighters, as it left St Patrick’s Cathedral after his funeral Tuesday

Pictures from the scene of the fire taken early Friday morning showed old school 1950s cars parked outside. 

Neighborhood resident Daquan Evans, 28, told the New York Post last week that he spotted a visibly shaken Norton at the scene.

‘That actor Ed Norton walked right by. He looked pretty upset,’ Evans said. 

‘This is crazy this fire. You think a movie comes up here and it is good for the neighborhood. Not a fire . . . Damn.’

Norton, who stars as one of the two leads with Willis, is also writing the screenplay and directing the film. 

Firemen on a tower ladder are seen trying to extinguish the blaze along with their more than 200 colleagues

Firemen on a tower ladder are seen trying to extinguish the blaze along with their more than 200 colleagues

Motherless Brooklyn is a crime drama set in 1950s New York based on a murder mystery novel by Jonathan Lethem. 

The cast also includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin, and is due for release next year.

The producers of Motherless Brooklyn issued a short statement expressing their ‘deepest condolences’ to Davidson’s family.

‘Our production was towards the end of our working day and had dozens of people working on site, when our crew noticed that smoke was coming into our set and into other parts of the building from below us. 

‘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’. 

Flames broke out in the basement of 773 St. Nicholas Ave at about 11 pm

Flames broke out in the basement of 773 St. Nicholas Ave at about 11 pm

Retro 1950s cars can be seen in the background as firefighters battle the blaze

Retro 1950s cars can be seen in the background as firefighters battle the blaze

Friday morning photos show the scale of the devastation 

Friday morning photos show the scale of the devastation 

The building where the tragedy happened was once a popular feature in the Harlem entertainment scene 

The building where the tragedy happened was once a popular feature in the Harlem entertainment scene 

The building where the tragedy happened was once a popular feature in the Harlem entertainment scene. 

When it was still open, St Nick’s Jazz Pub management proudly boasted of being the oldest continuously operating jazz club in Harlem.

It had never been significantly altered since 1940, when it was Lucky’s Rendezvous and owned by Duke Ellington’s piano player, Lucky Roberts. 

Prior to that, in the 30s it was the Poosepahtuck Club, named after a New York Indian tribe, and featured jazz revolutionary, Joe Jordan as house pianist, and blues vocalist, Monette Moore performing Live jazz seven nights a week.

It was renamed the Pink Angel when it reopened for business in 1950. 

In the early 60’s it was renamed again to St Nick’s Jazz Pub, a name which stuck until the end, with regular Monday night jam sessions.

The charred outside of the Harlem building where Davidson was killed 

The charred outside of the Harlem building where Davidson was killed 

The set was in the 1920s building that once housed St Nick's Jazz Pub, which closed in 2011

The set was in the 1920s building that once housed St Nick’s Jazz Pub, which closed in 2011

St Nick's was a popular part of the Harlem entertainment scene, with Monday night jam sessions

Monday night jam sessions took place at St Nicks

St Nick’s was a popular part of the Harlem entertainment scene, with Monday night jam sessions



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