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Justice Frank A. Sedita III

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Lawsuits arose out of a 2010 fire in Dunkirk. The fire consumed the Masonic Temple, a four-story commercial building that was constructed in 1914. The fire also damaged the Graf Building and the Liberty Building, commercial structures immediately adjacent to either side of the Masonic Temple. The Masonic Temple was owned by defendant Robert K. Lesser Trust, whose sole trustee was defendant Robert K. Lesser. The court noted that there is no evidence to suggest the Masonic Temple’s nearly century­-old electrical system had ever been updated or modernized before the fire. Plaintiffs contended that defendants ignored and neglected the ticking time bomb that was the Masonic Temple’s decrepit electrical system. Plaintiffs also alleged that defendants were in violation of a statutory mandate to maintain a commercial building’s electrical system in a safe condition. The court, among other things, denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to causation, finding that plaintiffs have come forward with a wealth of evidence, establishing the existence of genuine and material issues of fact, regarding appropriate investigation methodology, where the fire started, how it started, why it started, and even why it was preventable.