Building Owners Liable for Deaths After Quake

     (CN) – The owners of a building that collapsed in an earthquake and killed two women are liable to the victims’ families, a California appeals court ruled.

     Jennifer Lynn Myrick and Marilyn Frost-Zafruto died in an earthquake in December 2003. They were working at a clothing store in Paso Robles, Calif. The 111-year-old building that collapsed onto them was not reinforced to withstand an earthquake.
     A city ordinance required the building owners to reinforce the structure by 2016. The jury awarded the victims’ families almost $2 million total.
     Building owner Mary Mastagni argued on appeal that she was not liable because the reinforcement deadline had not passed.
     Justice Arthur Gilbert of the Ventura-based Second District California Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision.
     “Certainly, the city considered the interests of building owners in setting the deadline for compliance. But the overriding policy behind the seismic retrofit ordinance, taken as a whole, is not the promotion of the interests of building owners. Instead, the overriding policy is public safety.” Gilbert wrote.

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