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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

13 Claims Filed in Berkeley Balcony Disaster

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Thirteen lawsuits were filed last week over the collapse of an apartment balcony in Berkeley that killed six students and seriously injured seven in June.

The fourth-floor balcony of an apartment at the Library Gardens complex at 2020 Kittredge St., near the UC-Berkeley campus, was hosting a 21st birthday party when it buckled and crashed 40 feet to the street.

Most of the victims were students from Ireland who were spending their summer break working in the Bay Area to earn money for the coming school year.

The lawsuits in Alameda County Court name 39 defendants, including the builder of the apartment complex, subcontractors, the owner and property management firm.

They claim the balcony was shoddily constructed and had severe dry rot, and that officials at the apartment complex knew about the defects but did not repair them.

The balcony was only eight years old, but its deficient construction made it especially susceptible to water damage, according to the lawsuits.

They claim that Segue Construction and its subcontractors "knew that the balcony could not be completed in a safe and structurally sound fashion," after they began construction, but they "consciously chose to waterproof and complete construction of the balcony without correcting the water-saturated wood components and attendant known safety risks, because it would have been costly, difficult, embarrassing and inconvenient to repair and rebuild the balcony in a safe and reasonable manner."

The builders "acted in a manner that was despicable and malicious, in that they acted with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights and safety of the future tenants," according to the lawsuits.

The water damage was so severe that tenants saw large mushrooms growing from the balcony's supporting joists, which they reported to Greystar, the property managers, the complaints state.

The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for wrongful death, negligence, product liability, defective design and construction, and survivorship.

Twelve of the lawsuits were filed by Michael Kelly, with Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger in San Francisco. Kelly was not available for comment on Friday.

The thirteenth claim was filed by Eustace de Saint Phalle, with Rains Lucia Stern in San Francisco. Here are the defendants in one of Kelly's cases: Blackrock Inc.; Blackrock Realty Advisors Inc., a Delaware corporation; Blackrock Granite Property Fund Inc., a Maryland corporation; Blackrock Granite Property Fund LLC; Blackrock Granite Property Fund LP; Granite CA Holding Company LLC; Granite Library Gardens LP; Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC, a Delaware corporation; Greystar California Inc., a Delaware corporation; Greystar RS CA Inc.; Riverstone National Inc., a Delaware corporation; Segue Construction Inc.; R Brother Waterproofing Inc.; Abacus Project Management Inc., an Arizona corporation; Rutherford & Chekene; L.S. Mason & Associates; A-1 Door & Building Solutions; Heritage One Door and Building Solutions LLC; Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc.; Etter & Sons Construction Inc., an Arizona corporation; Insul-Flow Inc.; Larco Industries Inc.; Lovazzano Mechanical Incorporated; Medallion Industries Inc., an Oregon corporation; Northstate Plastering Inc.; The Energy Store of California Inc.; The Smith Company Inc.; R.J.S. & Associates Inc.; Kittredge LLC; Library Gardens LLC; EMG Properties Inc., a Nevada corporation; Library Gardens LP; John Declercq; TCA Architects Inc.; W.R. Grace & Co. - Conn., a Connecticut corporation; Does.

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