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LA Housing Complex Catches Fire, Sparks Real Estate Lawsuit

In December 2014, a housing complex managed by GH Palmer Associates, a company owned by Mr. Palmer, in downtown Los Angeles caught fire. The blaze ravaged the original structure but quickly spread to neighboring buildings, including the office tower that served as the headquarters for the law offices of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP. Even though the fire was allegedly started by suspected arsonist Mr. Abdulwali, the City of Los Angeles is filing a commercial real estate lawsuit against Mr. Palmer, not Mr. Abdulwali.

According to the details of the complaint, the DaVinci Apartments – the complex being constructed by Palmer – was severely lacking in both construction code and safety regulations. The plaintiffs allege that had everything been up to code, the fire would have been much easier to contain, and possibly could have been prevented altogether.

Erroneous aspects of the complex's construction, according to the lawsuit, include:

  • Improperly installed fire walls
  • Exposed wood frames
  • Stockpiling combustible materials
  • Lack of water sources for fighting fires
  • Inadequate security measures to stop trespassers

Los Angeles's lawsuit cites that it took $80 million dollars to fully repair the adjacent structures it controlled, including those housing the Lewis Brisbois firm, but its insurance policy provided just under $62 million. It is suing for over $20 million to make up for the gap in costs and expenses, which were paid for with monies taken out of the city's budget. If the case is concluded in their favor, it would prove to be a benefit for Los Angeles residents.

The Importance of Building Codes

This case highlights something that most people overlook when they are beginning or maintaining a construction project: flawed building codes or a failure to comply with local, state or national regulations can affect more than just themselves. If something goes wrong and negatively impacts other businesses or property owners, you may be accused of negligence and held accountable.

At Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, our commercial real estate attorneys cannot stress the importance of proper building codes and regulation compliance enough. We have represented clients from both the perspective of the City of Los Angeles and GH Palmer Associates. When there are negligence accusations in a construction case or lawsuit, people come to us for the professional legal guidance they require. To learn more about our services or retain our real estate professionals, call 800-980-6907 today or fill out an online case evaluation form and we will get in touch with you as soon as we can.

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