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Lawsuits filed over California balcony collapse that killed Irish students

Published 13/11/2015

Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse

The families of five Irish students killed when a California balcony collapsed have filed lawsuits over the incident.

They claim that previous tenants reported seeing mushrooms - a clear sign of rot - on the Berkeley balcony, but the building's management did not close the structure off.

Six college students died in the balcony collapse that happened during a birthday party on June 16.

Seven people who were injured have also filed lawsuits against the building manager, Greystar, the building owner, BlackRock, and the construction firm that built the balcony, Segue, of negligence. They seek unspecified damages.

"Our clients have authorised the filing of these claims with the hope that this litigation will bring to light the carelessness and negligence that caused this entirely avoidable tragedy that has produced so much pain and loss, both here and in Ireland," the law firm handling the suits, Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, said.

Segue used cheaper materials to construct the balcony, making it more susceptible to water damage, and left it exposed to rain during construction in 2005, the lawsuit says.

A city investigation following the collapse revealed wooden supporting beams on the balcony were rotted through from water damage.

The balcony gave way during a birthday party, tossing the six who died and another seven young people 50 feet down to the street below.

The Alameda County district attorney has been conducting an investigation to decide if criminal charges are warranted.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins met Berkeley's mayor and public safety workers last month to thank them for helping after the balcony collapsed.

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