Monday 20 November 2017

Berkeley tragedy: Lawsuits filed over balcony collapse in which six students died

The six students who lost their lives in the tragic accident, top left to bottom right: Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke
Workers remove part of a balcony that collapsed at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, file)

The families of five Irish students killed when a California balcony collapsed have filed lawsuits over the incident.

They claim that previous tenants reported seeing mushrooms - a clear sign of rot - on the Berkeley balcony, but the building's management did not close the structure off.

The six students who lost their lives in the tragic accident, top left to bottom right: Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke
The six students who lost their lives in the tragic accident, top left to bottom right: Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke

Six college students died in the balcony collapse that happened during a birthday party on June 16.

Seven people who were injured have also filed lawsuits against the building manager, Greystar, the building owner, BlackRock, and the construction firm that built the balcony, Segue, of negligence. They seek unspecified damages.

"Our clients have authorised the filing of these claims with the hope that this litigation will bring to light the carelessness and negligence that caused this entirely avoidable tragedy that has produced so much pain and loss, both here and in Ireland," the law firm handling the suits, Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, said.

Segue used cheaper materials to construct the balcony, making it more susceptible to water damage, and left it exposed to rain during construction in 2005, the lawsuit says.

Workers remove part of a balcony that collapsed at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, file)
Workers remove part of a balcony that collapsed at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, file)

A city investigation following the collapse revealed wooden supporting beams on the balcony were rotted through from water damage.

The balcony gave way during a birthday party, tossing the six who died and another seven young people 50 feet down to the street below.

The Alameda County district attorney has been conducting an investigation to decide if criminal charges are warranted.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins met Berkeley's mayor and public safety workers last month to thank them for helping after the balcony collapsed.

Press Association

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