Two Indian owners of a motel in New Jersey, where a fire killed three persons and injured 14 others because the exit doors were allegedly illegally locked, have been indicted on charges of manslaughter.
Randhir Maisuria, 39, and Prakash Patel, 37, were also charged by the Essex County superior court with violating safety laws because interior doors in the hallways meant to prevent a fire from spreading were allegedly left open, the New York Times reported.
The fire broke out on October 2 in 2005, in a ground-floor room of the Irvington Motor Lodge and the flames quickly engulfed a large portion of the 80-room motel leading to the deaths, Essex County prosecutor Paula T Dow said.
Lathan Hillard, 73, who lived there with her daughter and grandchildren; Todd Day, 40; and Kimberly Jones all died from smoke inhalation, Dow said.
Maisuria and Patel had been fined twice before the fire for having chained the same doors, the report quoted officials as saying.
The non resident Indians however refuted the charges. "We were keeping the door chained at night because people would go in the side doors. But on the morning of the fire, the doors were not chained," Maisuria said.
"This was a tragedy, but not a tragedy that should result in criminal charges against my clients," Michael Critchley, a lawyer representing the motel owners said.