Berkeley collapse legal proceedings set to begin

Preliminary civil legal proceedings following the Berkeley balcony collapse are due to commence in Oakland, California, on Monday.

Berkeley collapse legal proceedings set to begin

Many of the Irish students among the uninjured party-goers are also filing lawsuits, for emotional distress.

More than 30 companies, including the owners of the building, the developers, contractors, designers, and materials suppliers are among named defendants.

Six Irish students died and seven others were injured.

Families have filed lawsuits in relation to wrongful deaths while those injured have mounted personal injury cases.

The tragedy occurred in the early hours of June 16 when a group of friends were attending a birthday party at a fourth-floor apartment on Kittredge St in Berkeley when a balcony gave way, throwing a number of young students to the ground.

Niccolai Schuster, Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh, and Lorcan Miller lost their lives. The injured were Aoife Beary, who had been celebrating her 21st birthday on the night, and friends Seán Fahey, Conor Flynn, Niall Murray, Jack Halpin, Hannah Waters, and Clodagh Cogley.

The deceased had all been in the US on J1 work and travel visas.

The California law firm Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger is representing all of the survivors and all, but one, of the bereaved families. They are seeking to have all the cases heard together during the preliminary stages but to proceed separately to trial.

Another California law firm, Rains Lucia Stern, is representing the family of Ashley Donohoe, the only Irish-American killed in the incident.

Lawyers have said they expect some of the defendants in the cases will also seek, in separate proceedings, to sue each other for damages.

Lawyers have said they expect all the proceedings to be lengthy and complex with a number of “difficult and time-consuming” pre-trial motions, a large volume of documentary evidence, and witness testimony.

Meanwhile, the office of the Alameda County district attorney is continuing its criminal investigation into the incident. The district attorney’s office had been holding the balconies in a secure location but has now returned the remnants to the building owners and has said it no longer considers the apartment a crime scene.

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