COVID-19 Notice: Gersowitz Libo & Korek, PC is fully-operational during the COVID-19 global pandemic. We continue to handle cases and operate remotely, in accordance with mandated safety guidelines. We are available by phone, email or video conference to discuss your case.
Read More from Our Partners


over 900 million recovered for our clients

Helping New York and New Jersey Injury Victims for over 30 Years.


13 People Killed in New York City During Hurricane Ida due to Basement Apartment Flooding

Ten of Thirteen People Killed In New York City Flooding Accidents Were In Illegal Apartments; Darlene Hsu, Roberto Bravo, Phamatee Ramskriet, Khrishah Ramskriet, Lobsanj Lama, Mingma Sherpa and Ang G. Lama Among Those Found Dead

Darlene Hsu, Roberto Bravo, Phamatee Ramskriet, Khrishah Ramskriet, Lobsanj Lama, Mingma Sherpa and Ang G. Lama Died In New York City Basement Apartments During Flood

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK (September 6, 2021) – At least 13 people have died in their own basement apartments due to severe flooding brought on by Hurricane Ida.

In all, at least 43 people have died from the storm between New York and New Jersey. New York City police officials have said that 10 of the deaths involve residents who were in illegally converted apartments.

These deaths have raised questions about the safety of these basement apartments which have been a part of New York City’s housing stock for decades.

Mayor de Blasio has estimated that there are around 50,000 illegal basement apartments throughout the city. These units are believed to house more than 100,000 people.

Some of the victims identified so far are listed below.

  • Darlene Hsu: The 48-year-old victim was in a flooded home in Grand Central Parkway in Queens.
  • Roberto Bravo: The 66-year-old victim was found in his Brooklyn home along Ridgewood Avenue.
  • Phamatee Ramskriet and Khrishah Ramskriet: The mother and son were found in their Queens basement apartment. Phamatee Ramskriet and Khrishah Ramskriet are believed to have been trapped after a wall caved in.
  • Lobsanj Lama, 2, Mingma Sherpa, 48, and Ang G. Lama, 50: All three victims were found in their flooded Queens basement apartment.

There have been numerous calls for reform from state and local officials following these tragic deaths. City officials are encouraging residents to call 311 or 911 to report issues. This can be done without fear of being vacated – except when there is life-threatening danger.

A full investigation into the floods that killed Darlene Hsu, Roberto Bravo, Phamatee Ramskriet, Khrishah Ramskriet, Lobsanj Lama, Mingma Sherpa and Ang G. Lama remains ongoing.

Liability In New York City Basement Flooding Accidents

New York City has one of the highest costs for housing in the world. According to Business Insider, “The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in New York City is $3,500 — over two times the national median of $1,480. The average price of homes listed in Manhattan is nearly $1.5 million — more than five times the typical national price of homes listed.” This has led to a shadowy network of basement residences. Many of these units are illegal and lack basic safety features such as:

  • Multiple exits in the case of a fire or lock
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Smoke detectors
  • Proper ventilation

Not all basement apartments in NYC are illegal. However, these units must meet basic safety standards set forth by the Department of Buildings (DOB). For example, basement ceilings must be at least 7 feet high. For single family homes, every room in a basement must have at least one window. Basement walls must be water-proofed. When a building owner fails to follow (DOB) regulations they could be liable in the event of an injury or death.

Building owners in New York City have a legal responsibility to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. This should be done for tenants as well as anyone on a property whose presence is “reasonably foreseeable.” When a property owner is aware of a dangerous condition on their property they must take action to correct it. Claimants must prove four elements to be successful with any premises liability claim.

  • Duty of Care: Were any victim’s owed a duty of care by the landlord? Landowners owe the people on their property a duty of reasonable care to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. (See, for example, Maheshwari v. City of New York)
  • Breach of Care: If a claimant was owed a duty of care, it must then be determined if that duty of care was breached.
  • Causation: Claimants must demonstrate that the breach of care was the proximate cause of their injury.
  • Damages: For any claim to be successful, a victim must have sustained compensable damages. This may include medical bills, emotional distress, lost wages and funeral costs.

The family of any victim that died in a New York City apartment may be able to seek justice through a wrongful death claim. Potential beneficiaries in a civil claim will typically include a victim’s next of kin. Demonstrating negligence for any accident can be difficult. It will often require evidence and the use of experts. A premises liability attorney can examine all of the facts of your case free of cost and let you know what your rights are.

Investigating A New York City Basement Apartment Flooding Accident

We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the families of Darlene Hsu, Roberto Bravo, Phamatee Ramskriet, Khrishah Ramskriet, Lobsanj Lama, Mingma Sherpa and Ang G. Lama. Any person that may have information about what happened should reach out to the Department of Buildings. There needs to be a thorough investigation for the sake of all who have lost so much.

This tragedy has put into clear focus the dangers of unregulated and illegal basement apartments. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent future incidents like this. Safety regulations are not a suggestion. They must be followed for the safety of tenants and the general public.

Client Testimonials

A few years ago I was misdiagnosed and nearly ended up becoming a quadriplegic. Three spinal fusions followed. I asked my sister, a top D.C. lawyer, to find the name of the best personal injury lawyer in NYC, and I was referred to Jeff Korek of... Gersowitz Libo and Korek. It was a tough time for me, but Jeff and Irene were great and helped me through it every step of the way. They were compassionate, understanding and very accommodating, yet professional and always with their fingers on the pulse. They really care about the welfare of their clients, and not just money driven. When I was unable to travel, Jeff came to me, and I live an hour from the city. This firm is well known, well established, and has earned the respect and credibility among its peers. I highly recommend the firm of Gersowitz Libo and Korek without hesitation and, in fact, I already have. My thanks go out to the entire team for a better than expected outcome!!! They get a 5 out of 5 stars from me!!read more
Mary S.
I am giving this law firm 6 out of six thumbs up. Very professional very personal and compassionate staff. From the Attorneys to the staff they were all...
Anthony C.
Thank you to the team at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, and especially to our wonderful attorney Anthony Makarov. Mr. Makarov was our trial attorney who took our...
Amy L.
Ed Gersowitz and all his colleagues at the firm Gersowitz Libo & Korek, PC far exceeded all my expectations for a personal injury law firm. From the moment...
Robin F.
I was injured in 2011 and spent nearly 8 years with Ed Gersowitz and Jeff Korek. Their professionalism and care was beyond. The process was long and at times exhausting but Ed. Jeff and their team made me feel comfortable and in great hands. I... can't thank them enough and would highly recommend GLK to all. Thank you for all your help!read more
Jeremy N.
Thank you to the team at Gersowitz Libo & Korek and special thanks to attorney Daniel, Avi and Annette for all your help on my case. Dealing with the law...
Hazel M.
From beginning to end we were comfortable with the team at GLK. Thank you Mr. Gersowitz (Ed) for obtaining a settlement out of court.
Donna L. S.
Jeff and Michael are both very professional and helpful towards my case. I would like to thank the team and Irene, the assistant, for all their help despite the length of time that the case took. They took a lot of care and were patient with... answering any inquiries that I more
Cindy C.
They were incredibly professional and pleasant to work with. They made the personal injury process straightforward and easy to navigate. I appreciated their...
Lindsay L.
La mejor firma de abogados, muy profesionales, excelentes persona, todo el tiempo estuvieron pendientes de mi y mis necesidades, estoy muy agradecida con ellos.
Maricela O.
section start
Need Help with an Injury? We're Here to Help. Contact Us Today:
  • Disclaimer | Privacy Policy

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.