Berkeley Complex Builder Paid $6.5M in Balcony Suits

And Segue Construction has one lawsuit that's still being litigated
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2015 9:38 AM CDT
Berkeley Complex Builder Paid $6.5M in Balcony Suits
A mourner cries after placing a candle at a vigil for six Irish students yesterday in Berkeley, Calif.   (AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach)

A spokesman for the Bay Area contractor that built the Berkeley apartments where a balcony collapsed Tuesday, killing six, says the company has "a very good reputation" and has "never had an incident like this before," but a series of recent lawsuits suggests otherwise, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Segue Construction paid out $3 million in 2014 in a settlement dealing with "water penetration" issues on balconies in a San Jose apartment complex, the paper notes—issues that Segue blamed on a subcontractor before settling. Segue spokesman Sam Singer tells the Chronicle the San Jose balconies were "substantially different" in design from the Berkeley balcony. But a second suit Segue settled in 2013 ended with a $3.5 million payout to the owners of a Millbrae condo complex, with a lawyer for the plaintiffs telling the paper "water got into the structural wood framing for the balconies and dry-rotted out the wood members," as suspected in the Berkeley collapse.

And has uncovered yet another lawsuit, still in litigation, accusing Segue of "water intrusion causing tangible property damage" in Colma, though balconies weren't specifically mentioned. The website also details $11,000 in OSHA fines Segue has racked up since 2006 for work-site safety violations; Singer says the fines were "pretty minimal" considering how much work Segue has done over the years. But back in Berkeley, Singer tells the Chronicle building maintenance needs priority, and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates says state balcony codes may need to be scrutinized. Meanwhile, hundreds attended a Mass and separate candlelight vigil for the victims last night, and pointing fingers wasn't on the agenda. "We may ... want to lash out and talk about the balcony and who built it," said Father Aidan McAleenan at the Oakland cathedral Mass, per the AP. "But at the end of the day what [families] want the most is to see their loved ones." (Read more Berkeley stories.)

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