The city of Los Angeles is suing the developer of the downtown apartment complex that burned in December 2014 while still under construction, alleging the company was negligent for not taking action to mitigate the massive fire.
L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer on Thursday announced his office had filed a lawsuit against GH Palmer Associates, owner of the Da Vinci Apartments along the 101 Freeway, claiming $20 million in damages to city property.
“We're fighting to fully compensate the city's taxpayers for losses we allege could have been avoided had this massive building incorporated key safety measures and been better constructed," Feuer said in a press release.
The civil lawsuit names real estate developer Geoffrey H. Palmer and his company, alleging the company created a fire hazard at 900 West Temple Street "by failing to properly maintain, construct and manage the property according to code."
The complaints against the company include:
- Failing to have an appropriate fire protection plan
- Failing to compartmentalize construction
- Failing to property install fire walls or doors
- Failing to have an appropriate water supply for fire suppression
- Failing to have appropriate security measures that would prevent incursion by unwanted individuals.
The fire broke out at the construction site for the apartments early on the morning of Dec. 8, 2014.
In May, police arrested Dawud Abdulwali, 56, of Los Angeles, and charged him with arson of a structure and aggravated arson. Abdulwali has pleaded not guilty to both charges and is awaiting trial while being held in jail on more than $1 million bail. He faces a maximum of 10 years to life in state prison.
Prosecutors allege Abdulwali used an accelerant to start the fire on the fourth floor of the seven-story complex.
"The giant blaze, facilitated by combustible material including fully exposed wood framing several stories high, created large plumes of smoke, a rain of ash and soot and melting heat," Feuer's statement said. "The resulting heat from the fire was allegedly able to travel across the street and damage neighboring properties owned and leased by the City of Los Angeles. The city also incurred extensive water damages due to fire-sprinkler activation and firefighting activities needed to prevent the fire from spreading."
KPCC has reached out to the developer for comment.