In the case of the Berkeley balcony collapse that killed six college-aged Irish exchange students in June when a structure that may have been only "decorative" broke and fell four stories ABC7 now reports that 13 civil lawsuits were filed late yesterday.
Full of damning allegations, the suits name 39 defendants, among them Segue Construction, the complex's builder, and its sub-contractors, as well as Blackrock Investment, the property's current owner, and Greystar, the property management firm for Berkeley's Library Gardens.
According to the suits, in lieu of the prescribed plywood, builders used cheaper materials such as oriented strand board on balconies which can rot more quickly and may not have been immediately waterproofed. Specifically, after a wet winter, the lawsuits allege that the "defendants consciously chose to waterproof and complete construction of the balcony for apartment 405 [in January] without correcting the water saturated wood components." Since builders failed to perform the initial waterproofing, which was supposed to have occurred in October, the suits' claims are that "a concealed and hidden trap" was created.
"Tenants observed large mushrooms growing from multiple locations on the surface of the apartment's balcony," in the words of the suits, "an unambiguous red flag warning that the wooden joists were rotting and that the balcony was at great risk for collapse." A complaint from one tenant may have been lodged and could be contained in a written document.
"Our clients... hope that this litigation will bring to light the negligence and carelessness that caused this entirely avoidable tragedy that has produced so much pain and loss, both here and in Ireland," say attorneys.