Baum Hedlund attorneys Ronald L. M. Goldman, Timothy A. Loranger and Diane Marger Moore filed the Ghost Ship warehouse fire lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court for the State of California (Case No: RG17854328). The lawsuit seeks general, special and punitive damages for wrongful death against Defendants Chor Nar Siu Ng, individually and as trustee of the Chor Nar Siu Ng Revocable Trust dated September 28, 2007; Eva Ng; Derick Ion Almena; Micah Allison; Daniel Lopez; Omar Vega; John Hrabko; 100% Silk and Joel Shanahan (known as Golden Donna) based on the following causes of action:
Negligence – Wrongful Death (Against All Defendants)
Negligence – Survival Action (Against All Defendants)
Premises Liability – Wrongful Death (Against Chor Nar Siu Ng; Derick Ion Almena; Micah Allison; Daniel Lopez and Omar Vega)
Premises Liability – Survival Action (Against Chor Nar Siu Ng; Derick Ion Almena; Micah Allison; Daniel Lopez and Omar Vega)
Negligent Failure to Evict – Wrongful Death (Against Chor Nar Siu Ng)
Chor Ng and her daughter, Eva Ng are the owners of the property upon which the Ghost Ship was located. Chor and Eva Ng leased the property to Derick Ion Almena and Micah Allison, and permitted subletting of the property without proper due diligence or taking reasonable precautions, per the complaint.
Almena and Alison subleased, designed, maintained and provided services to the property, where events, open to the public, were held and entertainment was provided. At the time of the December 2, 2016 fire, Almena and Alison had been leasing the Ghost Ship for at least three years and had converted the Ghost Ship warehouse into residential ad hoc spaces/units and leased those spaces to others. According to allegations within the lawsuit, infrastructure and safety equipment legally required for safe and proper conversion to residential usage were knowingly ignored. Proper permits were not obtained for the conversion of the warehouse for public events held at the Ghost Ship.
Daniel Lopez and Omar Vega leased the property from Chor and Eva Ng and were neighbors to the adjacent Ghost Ship warehouse. Lopez and Vega supplied electricity and a restroom on their premises for use by patrons and invitees during music and other events held at the Ghost Ship, per the complaint. Permits for the conversion of the warehouse or for public events at the Ghost Ship were never obtained, the lawsuit alleges, and requirements for public facilities and electrical and fire suppression equipment were not provided.
John Hrabko, 100% Silk, and Joel Shanahan together promoted the electronic music event held at the Ghost Ship on the night of December 2, 2016. Almena, Alison, Hrabko, 100% Silk and Shanahan allegedly charged an entrance fee of ten dollars before 11:00 p.m. and fifteen dollars after 11:00 p.m. to enter the Ghost Ship on December 2, 2016.
Allegations in the Oakland Warehouse Fire Lawsuit
On the night of December 2, 2016, Edmond Lapine was attending an electronic music event at the Ghost Ship warehouse when a fire engulfed the first floor. He was one of at least 100 people inside the warehouse as the fire quickly spread through the building. Those inside tried to escape, but were unable to exit due to the unsafe conditions and the maze-like configuration of the warehouse. Trapped in the inferno, Edmond suffered catastrophic injuriesduring the fire, including smoke inhalation, while trying to escape.
Alive and fearing for his safety, Edmond was eventually overcome by the fire and smoke, and subsequently died inside the warehouse. According to the lawsuit, Edmond may not have died instantaneously when the fire tore through the area; he was likely injured and suffered from the injuries caused by the fire and smoke for a significant period of time before his death.
According to the wrongful death lawsuit, the Ghost Ship was a “death trap,” which contained a maze of makeshift rooms, alcoves and partitions. It was cluttered with carvings, mannequins, paintings, artwork, scraps of wood, pianos, furniture, tapestries, and at least one recreational vehicle trailer, per the complaint.
“The Ghost Ship lacked adequate and sufficient fire safety measures and was not up to fire protection and life safety codes, including, but not limited to, not having adequate and sufficient smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, overhead sprinklers, exit signs, emergency lighting, exit lights and a safe means of ingress and egress,” the complaint states.
“This Oakland warehouse was not appropriately used as living or event space so that it became a death trap for anyone who entered it. Safety should have been the number one concern here and sadly; it was the last. The lessons learned in Oakland must be a call to cities across the country to take appropriate action and crack down on these types of facilities so more lives are not lost.”
—Timothy Loranger, one of the attorneys for Edmond Lapine’s father.
The interior of the Ghost Ship went dark after the fire, according to the allegations, and patrons were unable to find their way to the only two means of egress: a stairway at the rear of the building, which was hidden behind the performance stage and a makeshift stairway (made of pallets and scrap wood) in the front of the building that patrons used to access the second floor.
The Ghost Ship warehouse fire lawsuit alleges that had been previous fires in the Oakland structure before the fatal December 2, 2016 fire. Subtenants and other individuals had allegedly warned Almena that the warehouse was a “death trap,” and that the building needed fire extinguishers.
According to the allegations, the Defendants had reason to know that the Ghost Ship was in disrepair and had a faulty electrical system and contained life-threatening, dangerous and/or illegal conditions which could likely result in injury to and death to persons.
The Ghost Ship warehouse fire lawsuit claims that the warehouse had an open, obvious and known history of hosting public events and parties inside, outside, and on the roof top, and charging an entrance fee to the events. There were numerous complaints of excessive noise and debris made to the City of Oakland Police Department when these events were occurring.
These complaints were allegedly sent to Chor Ng, and Eva Ng responded to the notices. According to the lawsuit, they were cited for multiple violations of the Oakland Municipal Code, including Sections 8.24.020D, “Property Inadequately Maintained” and 8.24.020C, “A Building or Structure which is in a State of Disrepair.”
Per the complaint, the Defendants negligently and carelessly owned, operated, leased, rented, promoted, patrolled, secured, built, constructed, developed, designed, maintained, inspected, repaired, managed, manufactured, distributed and/or sold materials to, provided utilities and services to and/or otherwise controlled the Ghost Ship, and the surrounding and adjacent premises, and the music event on December 2, 2016, by, among other things:
Failing to properly own, manage, lease, run, promote, oversee and/or provide utilities and services to the Ghost Ship.
Failing to provide adequate and safe means of egress for patrons and invitees.
Failing to take reasonable steps to eliminate the risks and dangers posed by the activities occurring at and surrounding the Ghost Ship, and adjacent and surrounding premises.
Failing to obtain permits for construction and holding public events.
Failing to hire competent employees, agents and/or contractors to secure the safety of patrons and invitees.
Failing to obtain permits for construction and holding public events; failing to provide adequate security.
Failing to keep the premises safe for patrons and invitees, including Edmond.
Failing to have and/or make sure the premises were safely constructed consistent with applicable building codes.
Failing to have and/or make sure the premises had adequate and sufficient fire safety measures and emergency evacuation measures, including adequate lighting.
Failing to have and/or make sure the premises contained a safe and sufficient supply of electrical power.
Falsely imprisoning patrons and invitees and trapping them inside the Ghost Ship during the fire.
Prior to the December 2, 2016 fire, the Defendants knew or had reason to know that the Ghost Ship was in disrepair and had a faulty electrical system and contained life-threatening, dangerous and/or illegal conditions which could likely result in injury to and death to persons, per the complaint.
The Ghost Ship warehouse fire lawsuit charges that the Defendants’ negligence and/or failure to act and the dangerous conditions on the subject premises legally caused Edmond Lapine’s fatal injuries. Per the complaint, the Defendants acted with malice, oppression and/or fraud in that, among other things, they acted with a willful and conscious disregard for the rights and safety of Edmond Lapine despite knowing the risk of serious injury or death that could likely result from the unsafe and dangerous condition of the Ghost Ship and surrounding and adjacent premises.
About Edmond Lapine
Born October 1, 1982, in Ogden, Utah, Edmond R. Lapine, II was a magnetic personality who lived for music and photography. Edmond graduated from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington with a BA in Liberal Arts, emphasizing French and creative writing. His studies included two months abroad in Paris.
His love of music brought him to the Bay Area, where he blossomed in a burgeoning music scene filled with like-minded people. Like many others who passed away in the Ghost Ship fire, Edmond subsidized his passion for music by working day jobs at a bakery and an art gallery café. In all paths of his life, Edmond’s generosity of spirit and enthusiasm drew others toward him, which is why so many people from different places and backgrounds mourn his untimely passing.
Edmond is survived by his mother, Sami Long Kopelman of Vancouver, Washington and father Robert Edmond Lapine of Ogden, Utah. A music scholarship in Edmond’s name has been established at Weber State University, Department of Performing Arts. Contributions in honor of Edmond’s memory will go to students in need.
About Baum Hedlund
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman has handled numerous premises liability cases in the United States, including structural collapse incidents involving buildings, bridges and train trestles, resulting in death and severe injuries.