Some lawsuits connected to 2015 deadly balcony collapse have been settled

A balcony at Library Gardens in downtown Berkeley collapsed on June 15, 2015, killing six and inuring seven. The victims recently reached a settlement with some of the 35 companies that had been sued in connection with the tragedy. Photo: Emily Dugdale

The victims of the deadly balcony collapse that killed six and injured seven in June 2015 have reached a partial settlement with some of the contractors that constructed the complex.

On lawyer for the families said the terms of the financial settlement were confidential, but that it included seven of the 35 of the companies that were sued in connection with the catastrophe. The Irish Times reported that the payment was $20 million. 

“This settlement will never restore health or life but reflects an element of justice from the wrongdoers for the deaths and serious injuries caused by the tragedy,” Matthew Lewis with the law firm Walkup, Melodia, Kelly, & Schoenberger said in a statement.

The firms include  Segue Construction, Northstate Plastering, R Brothers Waterproofing, Abacus Project Management, IRC Technologies, TCA Architects and LS Mason and Associates, Lewis told the San Francisco Chronicle.


Those who were injured when the balcony collapsed and the families of those who died are still pursuing lawsuits against the firms that did not settle, according to Lewis. Those include BlackRock, the owner of 2020 Kittredge Ave., where the balcony collapsed, and Greystar, the apartment complex’s property manager, he indicated. Trials are set to begin in early 2018, he said.

The lawsuits filed in November 2015 alleged that Segue Construction, the general contractor for the project, used inferior composite wood rather than pressure treated wood to construct the balcony that collapsed. The company, which employed subcontractors, also allowed the balcony to be saturated by rain before enclosing it. All of those missteps meant the balcony had an underlying weakness that caused its collapse when 13 people at a birthday party stood on it at the same time, according to the lawsuits.

The wood in the fifth-floor balcony at 2020 Kittredge St. started to rot so quickly after its 2005 construction that mushrooms later sprouted on the surface, according to the lawsuit. “Fungal bloom and biologic growth” appeared on the balcony’s exterior, as well as the balcony a floor below.

Despite all those red flags, the owner and property manager of Library Gardens did not take any steps to examine the balcony’s structure and determine if it was safe, according to the lawsuits. Instead, they allowed apartment #405 to be rented out regularly until the collapse.

The state of California revoked Segue’s license in April and the Pleasanton-based company has since shut its doors.


Hundreds gathered in Civic Center Park in July 2015 for a “Month’s Mind” to honor and remember those killed in the June 16 balcony collapse. Photo: Ted Friedman

The six who died were Ashley Donohoe, 22, from Rohnert Park; and Olivia Burke, Eimear Walsh, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster and Lorcán Miller, all 21 years old and from Ireland.

The seven who were seriously injured were all Irish and include Aoife Beary, Clodagh Cogley, Seán Fahey, Conor Flynn, Jack Halpin, Niall Murray and Hannah Waters.

“We will not have any further comment on behalf of our 12 sets of clients,” said Lewis.