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Tuesday June 19th 2018

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The Dry Rot Murders: Berkeley Balcony Collapse Destroys 6 Lives, Injures More.

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Tragedy occurred on the balcony of a fourth-floor residence in the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, California. Five Irish twenty-one year olds came to Berkeley for the summer on J-1 visas, only to die in a senseless balcony collapse. Their families came to the U.S. and flew the bodies of their children back home to Ireland. But it is not over. It is a long way from being over.

There were students who were injured also, but we will speak of them another day.

Was the eight year old building badly built? Was the contractor shoddy? Were the supports made of substandard material or badly maintained? Was the wood poorly sealed? These are all questions that the investigation will answer. Already a subcontractor has come into scrutiny as having a history of going to court over this same issue of failed water-proofing. The “Library Gardens” main contractor was Segue Construction; they had hired a waterproofing subcontractor R. Bros. Inc. of San Jose. That subcontractor was sued in the past for mold and dry rot found in a 109 unit condo in Millbrae. The Millbrae homeowners weren’t killed in their balconies, but homeowners found mold growing inside brand new walls–due to failed water-proofing. They also found their balconies were dry-rotting. And maybe there were design issues as well. They settled out of court for 3.5 million–and no one died. In fact, Segue has paid $26 million in settlements for various mold-dry rot related cases.

This tragic debacle will end up in court, and so it should. How much worse this tragedy is than mere building damage. Not only were there five Irish deaths, but also an American-Irish cousin; and even more were injured.

This is damage that cannot be mended. These young people, all of them brimming with potential, were on the verge of leading their adult lives, their whole futures ahead of them as a bright promise. That promise is now broken. The only thing the families can do is hold tightly to their memories, and hope that this type of accident does not happen again. The lives of the American-Irish Ashley Donohoe, and the Irish students Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh are priceless and irreplaceable. This tragedy breaks my heart, and reminds me why I am a proponent of maximum compensation for families of wrongful deaths. I am not an attorney, but I will be doing whatever I can to see that these families find justice.