Late on Friday, December 2, a fire broke out that would consume much of an Oakland warehouse dubbed the “Ghost Ship” by tenants and neighbors. The fire took the lives of many attending a music event, including Michela Gregory and Griffin Madden.
Now, a CNN story reports that lawsuits have been filed after the Oakland Ghost Ship fire claims more than 30 lives. Mary Alexander, a San Francisco attorney, has filed lawsuits on behalf of the families of both individuals. The legal documents allege that acts of gross negligence by a number of individuals and entities contributed to the calamity.
The lawsuits assert that Gregory and Madden, unable to find a means of escape, likely knew that they were going to die from the smoke and/or fire, adding to their pain and suffering. For example, Michela Gregory was at the event with her boyfriend of five years, Alex Vega. His arms were wrapped around her when the bodies were discovered.
Parties Named in Claims and Lawsuits
The building owner, managers, landlords of nearby buildings, promoters of the music event and the person staging the show are all named in the wrongful death litigation. Under provisions of the California Tort Claims Act, claims have also been filed against various departments and agencies within the governments of the City of Oakland and Alameda County.
For example, it is alleged that certain members of the Oakland Fire Department should have been aware of the fire hazards at the warehouse, given the fact that they “attended and held a music event” there before the day of the deadly fire. Under the law, governments are provided and opportunity to settle legal claims before they can be named as defendants in civil litigation seeking monetary damages.
Ghost Ship a Death Trap
The suits allege that the Ghost Ship was a death trap filled with combustible items, including carvings, art supplies, mannequins, propane tanks, furniture and more. Despite this, it did not have proper exit signs, sprinklers, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and emergency lighting. Power to the warehouse was supplied from a meter serving two nearby structures. It was delivered via through a hole in the wall. Electrical boxes were installed by unlicensed individuals. Sparks and smells were often emitted by the overloaded electrical system, according to the legal documents.
The lawsuits and claims against the named defendants and government entities seek special and punitive damages along with attorney’s fees and interest.
If you or a family member is a victim of another party’s negligence, it is possible to discuss the matter with an attorney. Our firm does not charge for this initial consultation. To learn more, please contact us.