Oakland Warehouse Fire Victims’ Families Sue

May 17, 2017

Attorneys representing the families of people who died in an Oakland, Calif., warehouse fire that broke out during an unlicensed concert plan to file a lawsuit Tuesday against the building’s owner and manager.

Lawyer Mary Alexander says she will file the so-called master complaint in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland. Several families have filed individual lawsuits alleging unsafe conditions existed at the warehouse known as the Ghost Ship existed long before the Dec. 2 fire killed 36 partygoers. Those lawsuits will be litigated at the same time before a single judge, Alexander said.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley says she is investigating whether criminal charges should be filed against the building’s owner, Chor Nar Siu Ng, and the building’s leaseholder, Derick Almena. Ng and Almena didn’t return calls for comment.

Almena organized the Dec. 2 concert and charged an entrance fee. He and his family also lived in the warehouse and sublet living to space to several self-described artists. The warehouse was not licensed for entertainment or residency.

The lawsuits filed so far say the warehouse was a cluttered firetrap and that the owner and leaseholder negligently ignored safety hazards.

Oakland city records show neighbors, residents and visitors complaining to city officials of Ghost Ship warehouse about safety problems, loud parties and other issues with the dilapidated building converted illegally into a living area.

Firefighters and other city officials also were called to the property and adjacent buildings. No citations were ever issued.

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