Wednesday 28 September 2016

Berkeley balcony collapse survivors face quiz from building companies

Published 13/08/2016 | 02:30

Survivor Aoife Beary (right) and her mother Angela at the hearing this week in California on a new bill to make construction safer Picture: AP
Survivor Aoife Beary (right) and her mother Angela at the hearing this week in California on a new bill to make construction safer Picture: AP
Workmen inspect the Berkeley balcony after the tragedy Picture: AP

Lawyers acting for companies being sued for negligence over the Berkeley balcony collapse will be allowed to quiz survivors about the events leading up to the tragedy.

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Two or three of the "most stable" injured students are to be deposed in Dublin in the coming weeks as part of the lengthy pre-trial discovery process, according to court documents.

One of the survivors, Aoife Beary, has already spoken publicly about her ordeal, addressing a California senate committee earlier this week.

Six Irish J1 students and a young Irish-American woman died when a balcony at the Library Gardens building in the Californian city gave way in June of last year. Six other J1 students were seriously injured.

The survivors and families have alleged negligence in the construction and maintenance of the balcony, which was affected by dry rot and had mushrooms growing on it.

Read More: Survivors reveal a year of painful struggle

The nature of the questions the survivors will face has not been disclosed, but some of the defendant companies have previously suggested that the actions of the students may have contributed in some way to the collapse of the balcony.

Details of the planned depositions were disclosed in a case management update filed with a court in Oakland, California, which will hear the multi-million-dollar lawsuits.

It disclosed that the companies being sued had already quizzed a parent of each of the seven students who died. The testimony has not yet been made public.

Court documents also reveal that the number of defendants in the negligence actions is likely to shrink to 30, down from the 35 originally sued by survivors and relatives of the dead.

Irish Independent

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