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Howard Stutz

Florida woman suing over Monte Carlo fire

19 January 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The first lawsuit associated with the fire at the Monte Carlo has been filed by a Florida woman who claims she suffered permanent injuries due to smoke inhalation associated with the early-morning rooftop blaze on Jan. 25, 2008.

The Las Vegas-based attorney for Jean Bartoli said the Monte Carlo's alarm systems worked, but his client and others staying at the hotel when the fire broke out were evacuated to an area of the hotel where they were subjected to smoke.

"She was put into an area not on the ground floor, but where there was still heavy smoke," said Robert Cottle, who filed the lawsuit in Clark County District Court on Jan. 11. "Her doctor's opinion was the smoke caused permanent lung damage."

Bartoli, 62, who lives in Plantation, Fla., is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 from MGM Mirage, which owns the Monte Carlo.

MGM Mirage spokeswoman Yvette Monet said Monday the company had not been served with the lawsuit and was unable to comment.

According to the complaint, guests were taken to an area that was supposedly safe and told to remain there until further notice. However, the guests were "continually subjected to smoke, fumes, and other airborne toxins resulting from the nearby fire."

Cottle said the evacuation process "seemed to be lacking."

He said he was unsuccessful in negotiating a settlement with MGM Mirage. The lawsuit, he said, could lead to similar lawsuits being filed against MGM Mirage over the fire.

The three-alarm fire caused $100 million in damage and lost business for the Monte Carlo and MGM Mirage, which had to close the 3,000-room hotel for three weeks. About 6,000 people were evacuated from the hotel because of the fire.

The Clark County Fire Department blamed the fire on welders who failed to use proper safety procedures. No citations were issued and the blaze was termed accidental.

The fire sent thick black smoke across the Las Vegas Valley and damaged the exterior of the Monte Carlo's south-facing rooftop facade. Stray bits of metal ignited foam material used in the Monte Carlo's outer design work.

Water damaged the Monte Carlo's 32nd floor, which was reopened 19 months later as Hotel32, a separate 50-unit exclusive boutique hotel atop the Monte Carlo.