Veterinarian takes steps to sue fire departments after blaze destroys clinic

Fire destroys Java’s Veterinary Center
Fire destroys Java’s Veterinary Center(Jim Boyce)
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 3:42 PM EST
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TOWN OF LOUISVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Three months after flames destroyed a Massena-area veterinary clinic, the owner is taking steps to sue the fire departments that battled the blaze for $4.5 million.

Dr. Wilfredo Perez, the owner of Java’s Veterinary Center, has filed a notice of claim against the town of Louisville, the Louisville Fire District, the town of Massena, and the Massena Fire District.

The document says the Akwesasne, Potsdam, Madrid, West Stockholm, Norfolk, Brasher-Winthrop, and Waddington fire departments could also be sued.

In his notice of claim, Perez accuses the towns and fire departments of negligence during the fire at the veterinary center.

A notice of claim is a legal document that’s the first step in filing a lawsuit.

The fire broke out at Java’s Veterinary Center on State Route 56 in the town of Louisville at 3 a.m. on October 28.

According to court documents, the fire rekindled at noon after firefighters left the scene. The papers state the fire rekindled again on October 29.

7 News reported on October 28 that volunteers from the following fire departments responded: Louisville; Akwesasne; Potsdam; Madrid; West Stockholm; Norfolk; Massena; Brasher-Winthrop, and Waddington.

Perez’s notice claims those fire departments had left the scene by the time the flames rekindled at noon.

“By the time the fire rekindled the first time in the afternoon, personnel and resources had been removed from the location that could have been used to help combat the fire. The Massena Volunteer Fire Department also responded with an aerial truck. Upon information and belief, only the Louisville Fire Department responded to the second rekindling that occurred on Saturday, October 29, 2022. Thus, the aforementioned fire departments may bear some or all responsibility for the loss suffered by Dr. Perez,” the notice of claim states.

The documents state two dogs died in the fire. They also say the building, all of the veterinary equipment/materials, and all of Dr. Perez’s personal belongings were destroyed.

“The estimated total loss is approximately $4,500,000.00,” the documents state.

Perez opened a temporary veterinary clinic in the Massena Industrial Park in November and told 7 News he planned to rebuild Java’s Veterinary Center at its original location.

Perez is being represented by a New York City law firm.

See the notice of claim below: