Berkeley apartment contractors to face legal action by authority

Investigation by State License Board has determined licences should be revoked

Legal action is to be taken against five contractors who worked on the Berkeley apartment building where a balcony collapsed killing five Irish students and one American last year.

It follows a nine-month regulatory investigation culminating this week in a decision to file for disciplinary action up to and including the revocation of the companies' licenses. The move follows a decision by Alameda County district attorney Nancy O'Malley late last month that her office would not be filing criminal charges in relation to the incident.

The fourth floor balcony collapsed during a 21st birthday party on June 16th. Irish students Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Lorcán Miller, Niccolai (Nick) Schuster and Eimear Walsh, all 21 years old, and Ms Burke's cousin Ashley Donohoe (22) from California were all killed. Seven others were seriously injured.


The investigation by the Contractors State License Board focused on building standards. In a recent statement, David Fogt, the board's chief of enforcement, explained: "The main questions we're trying to answer are if the various contractors involved followed the architectural plans for the balcony, including the use of the proper building materials, and whether workmanship standards were followed. If not, it's a clear violation of the law."

The board has now determined the licences should be revoked and will make relevant submissions to the California attorney general’s office for prosecution.

The companies include Segue Construction of Pleasanton, Etter and Sons Construction in Dana Point, R Brothers Waterproofing in San Jose, North State Plastering in Fairfield and the Energy Store of California in Sacramento.

It is understood the nature and extend of disciplinary action sought through the courts will be decided by the attorney general once the office has reviewed the investigation’s findings. Such cases can take up to a year to reach court.

Families of the students involved in the tragedy are mounting a concurrent civil legal action.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times