LOS ANGELES (CN) - Los Angeles sued a developer for $20 million Thursday, claiming its negligence created conditions that exacerbated an arson fire at a massive apartment complex in downtown L.A.
The blaze on Dec. 8, 2014 caused tens of millions of damage. Los Angeles County prosecutors last year filed a criminal complaint against Dawud Abdulwali, claiming he used an accelerant to start the fire at the Da Vinci Apartments at 900 W. Temple St.
On Thursday, City Attorney Mike Feuer sued Geoffrey H. Palmer, GH Palmer Associates and Palmer Temple Street Properties, seeking at least $20 million for negligence, trespass and nuisance, in Superior Court.
Feuer says Palmer did not have an appropriate fire protection plan, did not install firewalls or doors or have sufficient water to suppress the fire, and failed to take adequate security measures to prevent people from entering the property.
Code violations and combustible materials, including fully exposed wood frames, allowed the fire to spread to devastating effect, according to the 8-page complaint.
"The resulting heat from the fire was allegedly able to travel across the street and damage neighboring properties owned and leased by the City of Los Angeles. The city also incurred extensive water damages due to fire sprinkler activation and firefighting activities needed to prevent the fire from spreading," the lawsuit states.
The city suffered damages of $80 million, but its insurers covered only $61.9 million, according to the complaint.
Most of the city's damages apparently occurred at a high-rise office building at 221 N. Figueroa, across the street from Da Vinci Apartments. The city "owned, occupied and leased the high-rise ... as well as other adjacent properties," the complaint states.
"We're fighting to fully compensate the city's taxpayers for losses we allege could have been avoided had this massive building incorporated key safety measures and been better constructed," Feuer said in a statement.
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