Iowa Apartment Collapse Lawsuit Filed Against Building Owner

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June 9, 2023

by Brian Eckert

Residents of the Davenport, Iowa apartment complex that partially collapsed over Memorial Day weekend have filed a class action lawsuit claiming the building’s owner failed to properly ensure its safety and structural integrity.

The lawsuit calls the collapse “senseless, tragic, and entirely preventable” and seeks damages for personal injury, mental anguish, and loss of earnings and property.

Three Killed, Dozens Displaced in Collapse

On May 28, a large section of a six-story brick apartment building in downtown Davenport tumbled to the ground, killing three men and leaving around 50 tenants homeless and without their possessions.

The AP reports that, days after the collapse, when asked why residents hadn’t been warned, Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said, “I don’t know that anyone can anticipate a building collapsing.”

But the Mayor’s statement conflicts with a well-documented list of warning signs—including cracked floors, bowed walls, and falling bricks—that the 116-year-old building, previously operated as the Davenport Hotel and presently known as The Davenport, was unstable.

According to the New York Times, an engineer’s report in February documented a shaky wall. In May, another report noted portions of a brick facade that “appear ready to fall imminently.” The day prior to the collapse, a 911 call asked firefighters to check part of the structure that appeared to be bulging.

Since 2019, says the Times, more than 140 complaints, inspections, or permits related to The Davenport were filed with the city. City officials previously threatened to shutter some units unless the owner of 324 Main, Davenport Hotel L.L.C., made repairs. Last year, the building was declared a public nuisance due to solid waste violations. Between May 2022 and March 2023, city inspectors noted similar nuisance problems with the building nineteen times.

Davenport Hotel L.L.C., owned by Andrew Wold, purchased the historic building for $4.2 million in 2021. Within 48 hours of the collapse, the city fined filed an enforcement action against Wold and fined him $300 for failing to maintain the property “in a safe, sanitary, and structurally sound condition.”

Wold was a no-show at a scheduled June 9 court appearance to enter a plea on the charge, which reportedly would keep him from transferring ownership of the building to avoid demolition costs and other fees.

Lawsuit Blames Collapse on Building Owner Negligence

In the same court where Wold failed to appear for a hearing, Milberg filed a class action complaint claiming that Davenport L.L.C. is responsible for the collapse of The Davenport.

As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s negligent acts and omissions, Plaintiffs and Class Members were trapped in the Building as it collapsed, suffered physical and mental injury, lost personal property, and/or were displaced from their residences due to the Collapse caused by Defendant.

The complaint states that the defendant breached its duty to tenants, by, among things, failing to:

  • Maintain the building in a reasonably safe condition per Davenport Municipal Code §8.15.130(B) and (C);
  • Remediate the improperly performed repair work that resulted in observed “falling bricks” and a weaking of the building’s structure;
  • Hire competent contractors, inspectors, engineers, and appropriate entities to perform the required maintenance;
  • Warn residents of structural concerns associated with the building;
  • Warn residents of the dangers in the building of which Defendant knew or should have known; and
  • Address warnings and complaints from residents of structural concerns associated with the building.

The plaintiffs in the case, who were residents of the building at the time of the collapse, seek to establish two classes consisting of the following individuals:

  • All persons who resided at, kept personal property at, or were at, in, or near the Building at the time of the Collapse (The Resident Class)
  • All persons who resided near to the Building and whose residence was collaterally damaged as a result of the Building’s Collapse (The Collateral Class)

Anyone who meets class member criteria may be automatically eligible to join the Iowa apartment collapse lawsuit. There is no need to hire an attorney. Milberg is representing all class members on a contingency basis.

Since 1965, Milberg attorneys have filed thousands of class action lawsuits and recovered billions of dollars for our clients.

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