Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman Structure Injury Media Excerpts
Building Owners Sued Over Quake Deaths
The owners of a South of Market building where five people died during the October 17 earthquake have been accused of wrongful death and fraud in a pair of lawsuits filed in San Francisco.The key allegation in both actions is that the owners of the building were warned by engineers who worked for them that the structure could collapse in a “medium to large” earthquake and did not strengthen the building or warn tenants of the danger.
The city’s building code requires seismic strengthening of unreinforced masonry buildings that have had substantial changes in use.
City real estate records show that the building at Sixth and Bluxome streets was an unreinforced masonry structure that was built in 1908 as a warehouse.
The Legal Cleanup Northridge Meadows Suits Move Steadily Ahead
Earthquakes don’t frighten Superior Court Judge . . .
but his tour of the quake-ravaged Northridge Meadows apartments left a lasting impression.
Regardless of the time schedule in court, the seven attorneys for the plaintiffs are on a fast track to preserve the evidence before Northridge Meadows is razed by city bulldozers.
. . . Los Angeles attorney William J. Downey sees the owners as more culpable. His law firm, . . . Baum & Hedlund, specializes in mass disaster litigation and represents the families of four of the tenants who were killed.
“Large property owners go in and buy up huge amounts of the city’s infrastructure, mortgage them to the hilt, take money out and put nothing into them,” Downey said. “I suspect almost any building can be brought up to code.”
The Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico — where 97 people died and 140 were injured in a 1986 fire — will pay $100 million to 2,300 survivors or relatives of victims, according to news reports. A hotel maintenance worker pleaded guilty to setting the blaze during a labor dispute. The 22-story hotel also was cited for safety violations, including lack of emergency exits.
Warning Signs Weighed for Shaky Edifices
First it was cigarettes. Then asbestos. Then alcohol for pregnant women. The next possible life-or-death warning label: “This building could kill you.” The California Seismic Safety Commission soon could take its most controversial step to protect the public by recommending that warning signs be required on the front doors of all buildings in California that could topple in an earthquake.
“If there had been a sign that it was dangerous, maybe the driver could have pulled away,” said [the mother of the victim].
. . . Anything that will cause the owners to modify their structures and protect the rest of society should be done the sooner the better,” said Paul Hedlund, an attorney with a prominent Los Angeles personal-injury firm, [who represents the family of the victim].
Bridge Collapses, Killing One Man, Injuring Two
A wooden bridge spanning the Southern Railway on Bush Road collapsed Saturday night as a pickup truck attempted to cross, leaving one man dead — believed to be a teenager — and two men injured.
“From what the dispatcher said the bridge just gave way.”
Bridges Lacking Mandate to Repair Risks Continue Around Nation
Federal law requires the inspection of all bridges in Tennessee. But ironically, it does not require state or local authorities to repair or replace all defective bridges. That may explain why recommended repairs were never made on two structurally deficient Tennessee bridges that collapsed this month, killing nine. The problem is a national one, and is likely to worsen as America’s bridges continue to age and limited funds are available for their repair or replacement.
Death toll increases to 7 in U.S. 51 Bridge Collapse Floodwaters on Hatchie Likely Cause
State transportation investigators say storm water rushing down the Hatchie River may have caused the collapse of a U.S. 51 bridge Saturday night that killed at least seven people.