Berkeley balcony fall victims settle with building owner

FILE- In this Wednesday, June 17, 2015 file photo, a worker measures near the remaining wood of an apartment building balcony that collapsed, killing six college students and injuring several others in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

BERKELEY (BCN) A partial settlement has been reached with the owner and property manager of a Berkeley apartment complex for the deaths of six students and the injury of seven others when a balcony collapsed during a crowded party in 2015, lawyers for some of the plaintiffs said today.

The collapse of the balcony at Apartment 405 on the fourth floor of the Library Gardens apartment complex at 2020 Kittredge St. at 12:41 a.m. on June 2015 killed five students visiting from Ireland, as well as a student from Rohnert Park.

The seven injured students were also from Ireland.

Attorney Eustace de Saint Phalle of the law firm Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver said the partial settlement is with private equity group BlackRock of New York City, the property owner, and Greystar, which is based in Charleston, S.C., and has officers in San Francisco, the property  management company.

The settlement amount is confidential, de Saint Phalle said.

In May, a partial settlement was reached with seven companies that were involved in building the apartment complex.

De Saint Phalle said settlement talks are continuing with one remaining company that was involved in the construction, Insul-Flow Inc., a concrete company that has offices in California and Nevada.

De Saint Phalle represents the family of Ashley Donohoe, 22, of Rohnert Park, who was one of the students who died in the balcony collapse.

The attorney said that although the settlement amount is confidential, the parties are otherwise free to speak about the circumstances of the deadly event.

"The Donohoe family was insistent that there could be no 'Secret Settlement' designed to prevent the parties from discussing the facts of the case and what they believe to be the cause of thistragedy," de Saint Phalle said.

"The most important factor of this settlement for the Donohoe family is that they will be allowed to continue their efforts in the legislature to avoid a tragedy like this from happening again," de Saint 
Phalle said.

In a statement, Donohoe's family said, "Nothing will stop us from continuing our fight to have changes made to the California building codes and regulations to require regular inspections by qualified people, proper design and use of proper construction materials, and a ban on 'Secret 
Settlements' that allow contractors to hide defective construction work from 
the contractors licensing board and the public."

The family said, "Nothing will ever replace our daughter, our niece or the other four students who died that night. After this tragedy, we would hope all that were involved will join us in our efforts to ensure there are proper changes to the building codes and regulations in California related to annual inspections, balcony design and construction materials."

The Berkeley City Council passed stricter building codes for outdoor structures after the fatal balcony collapse. 

Also in response to the deadly incident, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last September that brings more oversight to the construction industry.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office said last year that it won't pursue criminal charges for the six deaths because of insufficient evidence that criminal negligence was involved.