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Ghost Ship victims’ families sue PG&E

Eighteen plaintiffs allege utility company failed to notice dangerous building conditions

A memorial near the aftermath of the fire last year.
A memorial near the aftermath of the fire.
Photo by Sheila Fitzgerald

Families of the victims of last December’s Oakland warehouse fire, which killed 36 people, filed a lawsuit in Alameda Superior Court on Tuesday, naming PG&E and 20 other parties negligent in the incident.

Also among the rash of defendants was warehouse owner Chor Ng. While this isn’t the first legal action Ng and some of the other named parties face over the Fruitvale disaster, PG&E is a new addition to the mix.

The suit claims that the utility company was negligent for not noticing dangerous conditions in the building while performing maintenance. Plaintiffs also say that the company should have suspected illegal activity in the warehouse by the amount of power it consumed.

Attorney Mary Alexander told the San Francisco Examiner:

The new complaint also names PG&E as a defendant because she and other plaintiffs’ attorneys believe that the utility “was negligent in supplying power to the building and failed to make it safe.”

Alexander said, “PG&E failed to follow its own rules for providing electricity in a safe manner and acted with conscious and willful disregard for peoples’ safety.”

The initial filing names only two plaintiffs, but the Los Angeles Times reports that in all, family members of half of the victims have come on board, consolidating many lawsuits or potential lawsuits into one.

No one at PG&E was immediately available for comment, but a spokesperson—commenting on the fire in general rather than the suit specifically—told the San Jose Mercury News:

“We have no reports of electric theft or any other anomalies from this location or the adjacent premises. We’re fully cooperating with authorities as they investigate this tragic event.”

No criminal charges have yet been filed in regards to the fire, but investigations are still ongoing. This latest suit names the December party’s organizers and manager as well.