Judge allows Berkeley lawsuits to be consolidated

At least 13 actions related to the June 16th fourth-floor balcony collapse pending

In a move that is expected to streamline complicated litigation involving last June's deadly balcony collapse in Berkeley, a California judge said on Monday he was allowing all of the related lawsuits to be consolidated and granted complex status. A new hearing to move the case forward has been scheduled for January 8th.

There are at least 13 pending lawsuits related to the June 16th fourth-floor balcony collapse which resulted in the death of six Irish students and left seven others seriously injured.

Some of the Irish students who witnessed the collapse but who were not injured are also expected to file lawsuits over their emotional distress. Those cases were not mentioned at Monday’s hearing.

Under California law, a “complex case” is an action that requires exceptional judicial management to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on the court or the litigants and to expedite the case and keep costs reasonable.


Judge George Hernandez jnr said that “it makes sense for one judge to hear all of them”, referring to the six wrongful death lawsuits and seven personal injury lawsuits stemming from the June 16th tragedy. There were no objections from attorneys for the defence.

Lawyers for one of the survivors have previously said they anticipate additional lawsuits against the owner, builders and manager of the Berkeley building and more than 30 other companies to be filed on behalf of the students who rented the unit where the accident occurred.

The San Francisco-based law firm Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger represents all but one of wrongful death plaintiffs and all seven injured plaintiffs; all of these plaintiffs reside in Ireland. Another San Francisco-based law firm, Rains Lucia Stern, represents the wrongful death plaintiffs who reside in California.

The defendants in the case include Segue Construction Inc, the California-based company that built the faulty balcony. In addition to the lawsuits, Segue and other parties might face a criminal investigation by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, which has jurisdiction over Berkeley.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley has previously stated that officials would look into what degree of negligence could be demonstrated, a move that could possibly lead to involuntary manslaughter charges against the defendants.

Judge Hernandez said the case would move forward at a new hearing on January 8th to be presided by Judge Brad Seligman in Oakland.