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Lawsuits Announced For Victims Of Bronx High-Rise Fire

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Victims of the deadly high-rise fire in the Bronx filed multiple lawsuits on Tuesday, claiming that safety rules violations led to the tragedy.

In all, 17 people died in the fire last month.

As CBS2's Christina Fan reports, the complaint doesn't list specific violations, but attorneys say there were problems with the building's self-closing doors that didn't close, and windows that wouldn't open.

A lack of sufficient heating was also an issue.

"We're not fungible, we're not disposable, you can't just throw us away," one person said.

Shattered families returned to the place of their heartbreak Tuesday, refusing to let their loved ones die in vain.

Backed by attorneys, they announced a lawsuit against the owners of Twin Parks North West.

"It's not easy to come and speak to you guys today, but we have to hold the proper people accountable," said fire victim Fatima Janneh.

Janneh lost her sister Sera in the Jan. 9 high-rise fire that claimed 17 lives. The 27-year-old college student died of smoke inhalation while trying to escape from the sixth floor.

Attorney Ben Crump says violation of multiple safety rules resulted in their wrongful deaths.

"Windows couldn't open up, and the smoke couldn't escape, that there is no proper egress in this building where people can escape, so literally they died from their lungs filling up with smoke," Crump said.

Watch Christina Fan's report -- 

Multiple lawsuits have already been filed against the housing companies, developers, and investment groups associated with the building alleging negligence. The most recent Tuesday by Crump and Weitz and Luxenberg represents six families.

"These were people who were just starting their lives and they died one of the most miserable, awful deaths you can ever die from," Crump said.

Families say even now, many still feel marginalized.

While an ownership spokesman told us they are providing multiple high-quality options for relocation, families say they have only been shown one location.

"They say they are helping us but they are only giving us very few resources and it's very frustrating to have to live in a hotel for 30 days," said fire victim Rokia Touray.

Chanasia Hunter and Vernessa Cunningham were both displaced by the fire.

"It's been very difficult trying to find home and shelter," Hunter said.

"Right now, this is the second time that they have put us in a hotel," Cunningham said.

Since then, both say they've been fighting to get adequate housing, but they told CBS2's Cory James the only location the city is putting people in is an apartment building they don't feel safe in.

"It's like a meth center right around the corner," Hunter said.

"I was sitting in my car and somebody taps on my window, and he's begging for money," Cunningham said.

"That is not acceptable when we have a whole city of housing and they're only providing one option," said Fatiah Touray, whose family was displaced.

Neighbors say similar concerns were voiced at a private town hall meeting with Crump.

"We believed these investors have a lot to do with making this right because we believe if the safety rules would have been followed, you wouldn't have so much loss of life and so much loss of property," Crump said.

As the legal battle plays out, those impacted say the quality of service they're getting now is not what they expected, and many of them thought it would be better after the outpouring of support from the community.

"Find us housing. Give us the money that the Cardi Bs and the Fat Joes and everything, so we can go about our business," Hunter said.

"Please do what y'all said y'all was going to do. Help us. We need help," Cunningham said.

Some neighbors say they were told they could not bring pets or have visitors at the temporary apartment building. CBS2 reached out to the city for comment, but so far have not heard back.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit filed Tuesday is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

When asked for the monetary amount, all attorneys would say is that they are seeking equal justice.

CLICK HERE for more on how to help the victims

CBS2's Christina Fan contributed to this report.

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