Belfast Telegraph

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Berkeley tragedy: Builders paid $3m to settle lawsuit over 'shoddy construction on apartment balconies that led to rot'

Published 18/06/2015

Two students comfort each other at the scene of the Berkeley balcony collapse
Two students comfort each other at the scene of the Berkeley balcony collapse
Mourners cry as the caskets of cousins Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, are placed in hearses following services at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif. on Saturday, June 20, 2015. Olivia, an Irish national and Ashley, an American, died with others while celebrating a birthday when a balcony collapsed at a Berkeley, Calif. apartment complex on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
The coffin of Olivia Burke arrives at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. She died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The flag of St Mary's College in Rathmines is carried during the funeral of Niccolai Schuster at The Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. He died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
GAA commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh attends the funeral of Niccolai Schuster at The Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. He died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The coffin of Olivia Burke arrives at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. She died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Olivia Burke arrives at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. She died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Olivia Burke arrives at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. She died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Singer Hozier at the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, where he was due to perform at the funeral service of Olivia Burke. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. She died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eoghan Culligan is carried during his funeral at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham in Dublin, after he died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Mourners leave after the funeral of Eimear Walsh at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. Eimar died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh leaves Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, after his funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. Eimar died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh leaves Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, after his funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. Eimar died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh leaves Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, after her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. Eimar died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh leaves Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, after her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. Eimar died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh arrives at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for her funeral after she died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners gather at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for the funeral of Eimear Walsh who died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners gather at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for the funeral of Eimear Walsh who died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh arrives at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for his funeral after he died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eoghan Culligan is carried during his funeral at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham in Dublin, after he died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The coffin of Eoghan Culligan is carried during his funeral at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham in Dublin, after he died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Paul Burke places items on top of his daughter's casket during a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
The Burke family from right, father Paul, mother Paula and brother Gavin look on during a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Monsignor Dan Whelton gives his condolences to the Burke family from right, father Paul and mother Paula Burke and brother Gavin Burke during funeral services for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Ashley Donohoe looks at her sister's casket during a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Friends and family gather for a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Olivia Burke's brother Gavin Burke holds consoles his mother Paula Burke as Paul burke looks on during a service for Olivia and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Olivia Donohoe's brother Gavin Burke, left, stands with his parents Paul Burke and Paula Burke as they watch a funeral worker tend to the casket of Ashley Donohoe, following services for Donohoe, 22, and Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Pallbearers, including Ashley Donohoe's father George Donohoe, right, carry her casket to a waiting hearse following services for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Pallbearers, including Olivia Burke's brother Gavin Burke, left, wheel out her casket following services for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
From left, parents George and Jackie Donohoe with their daughter Amanda Donohoe pray during services for Ashley Donohoe, 22, and Olivia Burke, 21 at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Mourners pray during services for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Friends and family gather for a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Caskets of Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, are set in front of the altar before a service at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Funeral directors transport the body of an Irish student who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed, Friday, June 19, 2015 in Oakland Calif. Caskets bearing four of the six victims arrived at St. Columba Catholic Church for a vigil Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A funeral director transports the body of an Irish student who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. Caskets bearing four of the six victims arrived at St. Columba Catholic Church for a vigil Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Mourners embrace following an open casket vigil for four Irish students who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed on Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. The fourth floor balcony at the Library Gardens apartment complex detached early Tuesday morning killing six and injuring seven during a 21st birthday party. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland's Minister of State for the Diaspora, leaves an open casket vigil for four Irish students who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Pallbearers attend to the caskets of Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, before a service at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Pallbearers attend to the caskets of Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, before a service at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Jackie Donohoe places items on top of her daughter's casket during a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Gavin Burke, second from right, brother of Olivia Burke holds his head in his hands as his fatter Paul Burke looks down during services for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Funeral directors transport the body of an Irish student who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. Caskets bearing four of the six victims arrived at St. Columba Catholic Church for a vigil Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A man holds his head during a memorial service for six Irish students at the Cathedral of Christ the Light Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. The six Irish students died when a balcony collapsed during a party in Berkeley. (AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach)
Mourners embrace following an open casket vigil for four Irish students who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Funeral directors transport the body of an Irish student who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed on Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. Caskets bearing four of the six victims arrived at St. Columba Catholic Church for a vigil Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Mourners arrive at a vigil for four Irish students who died when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed on Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. The balcony at Berkeley's Library Gardens apartment complex detached early Tuesday morning killing six during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Members of the public queue to sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A member of the public arrives to sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Tributes left in a book of condolence in the chapel at St Mary's College in Rathmines, Dublin, where UCD students Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan studied before they were killed in a balcony collapse in the US. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. The victims - five from Ireland and one from California - plunged to their deaths while celebrating a 21st birthday party in Berkeley. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A flag flies at half mast at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin, to honour the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. The victims - five from Ireland and one from California - plunged to their deaths while celebrating a 21st birthday party in the US city. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Books of condolence for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse are opened at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. The victims - five from Ireland and one from California - plunged to their deaths while celebrating a 21st birthday party in the US city. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Candles are lit in memory of the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. The victims - five from Ireland and one from California - plunged to their deaths while celebrating a 21st birthday party in the US city. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A list of the names of the victims beside a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin opened in memory of those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Messages written by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina in a book of condolence opened at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Dublin Lord Mayor Christy Burke (right) invites members of the public to sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
President Michael D Higgins signs a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Lord Mayor Christy Burke (left) watches as President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Mourners attend the funeral of Eoghan Culligan at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham in Dublin, after he died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People react during a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. AFP/Getty Images
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina whoi attended a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost their lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness signing a book of condolence at the Mansion House following the deaths of the young Irish students in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People stand in silence at a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. AFP/Getty Images
Members of the public queue to sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Tributes left in a book of condolence in the chapel at St Mary's College in Rathmines, Dublin, where UCD students Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan studied before they were killed in a balcony collapse in the US. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
A woman holds a candle during a candlelight vigil at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park to mourn the loss of six students who died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A flag flies at half mast at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin, to honour the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Books of condolence for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse are opened at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Candles are lit in memory of the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
The Irish students killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse: Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Lorcán Miller, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke, all 21 years old and friends from south Dublin. The sixth fatality is Irish-American Ashley Donohoe (22), from California.
People react during a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of the balcony that sent six young Irish nationals plummeting to their deaths. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
People react during a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of the balcony that sent six young Irish nationals plummeting to their deaths. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
A crowd of people stand in silence at a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of a balcony at a California apartment building, sending five Irish citizens and an Irish-American woman plummeting to their deaths, media reports said on June 17. At least seven other people were injured in the accident in Berkeley, which took place in the early hours of June 16 during a 21st birthday party. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
People place candles at a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of a balcony at a California apartment building, sending five Irish citizens and an Irish-American woman plummeting to their deaths, media reports said on June 17. At least seven other people were injured in the accident in Berkeley, which took place in the early hours of June 16 during a 21st birthday party. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
People place candles and signs at a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of a balcony at a California apartment building, sending five Irish citizens and an Irish-American woman plummeting to their deaths, media reports said on June 17. At least seven other people were injured in the accident in Berkeley, which took place in the early hours of June 16 during a 21st birthday party. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Young friends attend a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015.
People embrace at a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of a balcony at a California apartment building, sending five Irish citizens and an Irish-American woman plummeting to their deaths, media reports said on June 17. At least seven other people were injured in the accident in Berkeley, which took place in the early hours of June 16 during a 21st birthday party. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 17: A man cries during a candlelight vigil at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park to mourn the loss of six students who died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 17: A woman looks at a makeshift memorial outside of an apartment where six students died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 17: A man looks at a makeshift memorial outside of an apartment where six students died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 17: People gather at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park to mourn the loss of six students who died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 17: People hold candles as they gather at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park to mourn the loss of six students who died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Emotional tributes have been paid to the tragic students (AP)
Eoghan Culligan and his girlfriend Sarah McCarthy
Neil Sands of the Irish Network Bay Area places a flag of Ireland over wreaths at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015 (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A woman leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial for victims of a balcony that collapsed in Berkeley (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Newspapers in the student centre in University College Dublin where three of the six students studied before they were killed in a balcony collapse in the US. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
The remaining wood from the Library Gardens apartment building balcony that collapsed is shown in Berkeley (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A worker measures near the remaining wood from an apartment building balcony that collapsed in Berkeley (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Irish flag, flowers and a sign are shown at a shrine left for victims of the Library Gardens apartment building balcony collapse Wednesday, June 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A man who did not give his name looks at photographs, cards and flowers from a shrine for victims from the Library Gardens apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A crew works on the balcony which collapsed, killing six people
Police at the scene of a balcony collapse at an apartment building near UC Berkeley on June 16, 2015 in Berkeley (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A group stands in the lobby at Highland Hospital, where some victims from a balcony that collapsed were taken (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
People gather at the scene of a balcony collapse in Berkeley (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Flowers and a cigarette box form a makeshift shrine near the area where a fourth floor balcony collapsed in Berkeley (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Police examine the scene of a balcony collapse in Berkeley, Calif. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The builders of the apartment complex where a balcony collapsed, killing six Irish students, paid $3m to settle a lawsuit last year that claimed problems with dry rot and substandard balconies in another complex.

The investigation in Berkeley is now focused on the water-proofing of eight critical wooden structural supports for the balcony that collapsed early on Tuesday morning. 

Mayor of Berkeley Tom Bates yesterday told reporters he believed the wood had not been sealed properly and this may have led to moisture damage.

He said that appeared to be the primary cause of the tragedy.

"More than likely, it was caused by rain and water damage that was caused to the support beams," he said.

The victims - five from Ireland and one an Irish-American from California - plunged to their deaths from the fourth storey of the apartment complex at Library Gardens in the university city's Kittredge Street.

They were Olivia Burke (21), Eoghan Culligan (21), Niccolai (Nick) Schuster (21), Lorcán Miller (21), Eimear Walsh (21), and Ashley Donohoe (22).

Medical staff are closely monitoring two other Irish female students who are in a critical condition, while a further five also remain in hospital .

The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper today reports court filings show that the firm that constructed the building, Segue Construction Inc. of Pleasanton, paid $3 million in 2014 to settle a lawsuit over “water penetration” problems on dozens of balconies on a San Jose apartment complex.

Segue specialises in building apartments, and was the subject of a lawsuit in 2010 in which the owners of the 245-unit Pines at North Park Apartments at 70 Descanso Drive in San Jose accused Segue of “failing to design the breezeways, private balconies and stairwells at the project in substantial compliance with all applicable local and state codes and according to industry standard.”

The Chronicle reports that Segue blamed the problems on a subcontractor before settling with the apartment building’s owner, Irvine Co. LLC.

Sam Singer, a spokesman for Segue, said the balconies in San Jose were “substantially different” from the one that collapsed in Berkeley. “It is like comparing apples and oranges,” he told the Chronicle.

Press Association is reporting that Segue also settled another lawsuit focused on an apartment project in Millbrae, where among other things, Seque was accused of improperly waterproofing balconies.

They are completely different projects. They are completely different types of balconies," Mr Singer said. "Segue Construction has never had an incident like this in its history."

News of the lawsuits comes after a US official said the balcony which collapsed was only originally included in the Berkeley building design as a decorative feature.

The Irish Independent has learned the balconies became the focus of a planning wrangle a decade ago between the City of Berkeley Design Review Committee and Segue.

A February 21, 2002, briefing memo about the building revealed City of Berkeley planners insisted they "need sample of balcony material" and that they would "prefer a lighter touch for two balconies on the Kittredge side".

Both San Francisco civil engineers and Library Gardens complex residents yesterday said dry rot was feared to have degraded the timber supports.

Berkeley officials are also examining resident complaints of flooding in February 2013.

The balconies were initially intended to be decorative when the plans for the complex were submitted for approval a decade ago.

Former Berkeley Design Review Committee official Carrie Olson, who abstained from the approval vote, said the balconies were for decorative rather than practical purposes.

"(They were) definitely not large enough to be what the city would call an 'open-space balcony', where groups of people could stand outside," she said.

Under a 57-page California planning regulation dating from 1998 and applied to the complex, it emerged the balconies were simply required to have a structural capacity to handle 28kg (60lbs) per square foot.

City official Matthai Chakko said the investigation into the tragedy was accelerating.

The City of Berkeley later confirmed a second balcony at the Library Gardens complex had now been found to be structurally unsafe and was a "collapse hazard".

BlackRock Ltd, which serves as the investment adviser for a real estate fund which owns Library Gardens, said that it was "terribly saddened by the tragic incident" and that it was in contact with the building's management company and an independent structural engineer.

Source Irish Independent

Further Reading

Rotten wood find in balcony probe  

Berkeley balcony collapse: Newry father whose son died in US hit-and-run offers to repatriate victims  

Berkeley balcony collapse: probe into tragedy begins in California  

Berkeley balcony collapse: Irish US ambassador writes to New York Times over 'despicable' coverage of tragedy  

Berkeley balcony collapse: 'I've lost the love of my life and my best friend', says girlfriend of victim Eoghan Culligan

Irish Independent

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