Approximately one year ago, six people were killed in Berkeley, California when an apartment building balcony collapsed during a party attended by exchange students form Ireland. As we have previously reported on this blog – Berkeley Balcony Collapse Raises Questions; Bill in Response to Berkeley Balcony Collapse; Berkeley Balcony Collapse Update; and Builder Segue Construction’s Temporary Restraining Order, the legal fallout from this tragedy continues to reverberate.
Most recently, the Alameda County District Attorney decided not to press criminal charges because the investigation determined that it would be difficult to establish evidence sufficient to meet the legal threshold for manslaughter resulting from criminal negligence. No evidence could support a finding that any firm or individual involved with construction and design of the balcony acted with gross negligence or reckless conduct “akin to a disregard to human life…” such that there would be reasonably foreseeable deadly consequences.
Meanwhile, the California State License Board has just completed a nine month long investigation into the five construction companies that were involved in building the balcony and apartment complex in which it was located.
The License Board found that the collapse was caused by “…water incursion that caused dry rot” and that the contractors did not perform their work to “trade standards”. Those five companies are Segue Construction, Etter and Sons Construction, R. Brothers Waterproofing, North State Plastering and the Energy Store of California. They were the general, framing, plastering and waterproofing contractors and also the material supplier of ventilation equipment, respectively.
The License Board has decided to forward its results to the California Justice Department for further proceedings. Punishment could range from an infraction to a license suspension. The Justice Department’s investigation results and findings will not be released until or unless charges are formally filed and no further information about those proceedings is available.
Meanwhile the status of Senate Bill 465, a bill initiated in the California State Senate intended to require all contractors to disclose past felonies or lawsuits alleging defects brought against them for negligence or fraud, was being considered by Committee members for potential action, but lacking a consensus, the bill stalled in Committee.