Ceiling Collapse Results In $3M Settlement
The family of a man who died after a ceiling collapsed on him has reached a $3M settlement with the property owner and a veterinary clinic that was leasing the property. The plaintiffs contended that the floor above the ceiling had been overloaded by storage resulting in the collapse. Damage had previously been caused by a water pipe breaking causing the ceiling to sag. Both the veterinary clinic and the property owner were on notice that structural repairs had to be made to the building before it was safe. However, that never happened.
Instead, the property owners called a plumber to repair the pipe without first addressing the structural problems caused by the water damage. The plumber’s family is the plaintiff in this lawsuit. They have filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the property owners knew that the building was unsafe when they invited the plumber onto the property to repair the pipe. They were told beforehand that structural damage to the first floor had to be repaired prior to fixing the pipe. They did not call a structural engineer. In an effort to save money, they cost a man his life.
Predictably, the defendant is denying foreknowledge that the ceiling was unsafe. However, they had called a contractor in previously to look at the ceiling and the contractor informed the owners that the structure was unsound. The plumber expressed concerns that employees and dogs in the area were likely unsafe.
The parties reached an agreement to compensate the family $3 million for the loss of their loved one.
Who is responsible when a building collapses?
The building owner is responsible for the building. In cases where a building sustains damage, the building owner must see to it that it is safely restored before inviting other people onto the premises. In this case, the kennel’s water had been turned off, so the priority for the owners was to get the water turned back on. That meant fixing the pipe. However, they neglected to inform the plumber that the building had sustained structural damage. They had the opinion of at least one plumber who expressed concern over the structural integrity of the building after looking at the water damage.
In most cases, the building owner had foreknowledge of the structural problems prior to injury and death. That is almost certainly the case here. Even without an expert opinion, there was evidence that the ceiling was bowing prior to its collapse.
In this case, the money will be set aside in a conservatorship for the children of the slain plumber who will no longer have access to their father’s income.
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