The story of the tragic collapse of that balcony on June 16 in Berkeley proceeds on, and as it turns out, the Pleasanton-based company Segue Construction that built the arguably faulty balconies on the building in question has paid out many more millions to settle lawsuits over shoddy construction jobs in recent years than was originally reported a couple weeks ago. Also, famed civil prosecutor Erin Brockovich leapt into the fray to say that she's "available to meet with and assist the families, and to advocate for them to find a non-litigious solution in the coming weeks."
The latest development, over the weekend, is the inkling from Alameda County prosecutors and legal experts that a possible, unprecedented criminal case against Segue Construction could rely heavily on the $28.5 million the company has paid out in settlements relating to water damages in recently constructed buildings they've built, as the Mercury News reports. These include multiple cases of water intrusion relating to balconies that suffered dry rot, just like what's evident in the Berkeley case. This is over four times the $6.5 million in settlements previously discovered which was paid in 2013 to settle suits relating to buildings in San Jose and Millbrae. (Segue, for their part, has issued a statement saying that though they were the general contractor in the Millbrae case, "Segue was never a party to the lawsuit and never admitted any liability.")
Also, on Thursday, an Alameda County judge denied Segue's request to examine and test the evidence that was collected by the City of Berkeley and the Alameda County DA's office. As the Contra Costa Times reported, Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that their request was tantamount to "participating in" the investigation against them, and the DA's office said it would be like allowing a defendant "piggyback and spy on a criminal investigation."
Meanwhile, as the Irish Times reports (and the Chronicle picked up the story Sunday, via Leah Garchick), Erin Brockovich has partnered with Dublin (Ireland)-based law firm Phelim O’Neill Solicitors to begin trying to facilitate damage payments for the families of the victims. She said she is "available to meet with and assist the families, and to advocate for them to find a non-litigious solution in the coming weeks," and adds that "As a Californian, I am devastated that these young visitors to our shores were caught up in this horrific situation... [and] as a lifelong activist, I feel it is my duty to come forward and offer these families my assistance."
And, naturally, Segue has employed the services of local fixer/PR-spinner Sam Singer, who has already issued statements trying to minimize the similarity of the earlier lawsuits over balcony construction and water damage.