Some family members of the 36 people who died in the fire at the "Ghost Ship" warehouse in December filed a lawsuit against an extensive list of defendants today, including the building's owner, master tenant, next door neighbors, and Pacific Gas & Electric, among others.
The consolidated lawsuit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court by San Francisco attorney Mary Alexander, who represents 10 victims' families and has been appointed a liaison for all Ghost Ship cases by the court, according to a press release. The legal team expects other victims’ families to sign on to the case now that it’s been filed.
The fire broke out in the warehouse at 31st Avenue near International Boulevard around 11pm on December 2 as an electronic music dance party was underway on the warehouse’s second floor.
The lawsuit describes the building's interior as “a death trap that contained a maze of makeshift rooms, alcoves and partitions. It was cluttered with carvings, mannequins, paintings, artwork, scraps of wood, pianos, furniture, tapestries and several recreational vehicles.”
Thirty-six people who were trapped inside died as the fire quickly spread through the building.
Among the defendants listed in the suit are property owner Chor Ng and her family; master tenant Derek Ion Almena, his wife Micah Allison and business partner Nicholas Bouchard; the stereo installation shop next door, 510 Custom Audio, and its proprietors, alleging they supplied electricity, restrooms and event space during events at the Ghost Ship.
The suit also names the promoters and performers from that night: record label and promotional company 100% Silk; Joel Shanahan, otherwise known as performer and promoter Golden Donna; and Max Ohr, a resident of the building who the suit says helped promote the party that night, collected entrance fees and provided security.
The suit also names PG&E for providing electric service to the Ghost Ship and adjoining buildings and not noticing red flags about its electric use. While investigators have not said what caused the fire, The Mercury News reported that building owners were aware of problems with the building's electrical system.
The power was supplied from a meter shared with an adjoining building with extension cords and cables snaked through holes in the walls. According to the suit, Almena and another Ghost Ship resident warned property owners that the electric system was outdated and dangerous, but owners didn’t take action.
The suit alleges that PG&E should have been aware of the warehouse's improper use of electricity by monitoring its power usage. In a statement, PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian said the company is still reviewing the lawsuit.
“We’ve reviewed our records and over the last 10-plus years, we have no reports of electric theft or any other anomalies from this location or the adjacent premises," she said. "We’re fully cooperating with authorities as they investigate this tragic event."
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