As the tragedy that took the lives if six Irish students in near the University of California – Berkeley last week is still under investigation, it seems clear that Segue Construction, the construction company that built the Liberty Garden apartments, may face numerous lawsuits.
After reviewing detailed photos of the damage, a structural engineer said water had gotten in between the balcony and the building, causing dry rot. The rot may have weakened the cantilever section holding up the balcony. A building code expert said that the lower balcony also had moisture issues and was also structurally unsafe. In the meantime, records show Segue Corporation has over 10 worksite-related safety violations from the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health and at least four lawsuits over water damaged balconies that prematurely rotted and fell off of buildings. The lawsuits accused the company of leaving newly constructed buildings susceptible to water incursion that damaged wood beams. Segue paid more than $6 million to settle two of them, according to court records. A Cal-OSHA senior industrial engineer sued Segue in August 2013, alleging wood used in framing fell on his head during an inspection, and an unresolved 2013 lawsuit by Danville Senior Housing Associates alleges water intrusion caused tangible property damage.
Although a crisis management public relations specialist hired by the Segue says that it is too soon to speculate, families of the victims may wish to seek advice from an experienced attorney. Once lawsuits are filed, plaintiffs will undoubtedly wait a long time for case resolution.
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