Iowa Building Collapse Results in Lawsuit Against Property Owner and Contractors
A person who lived in an Iowa building that partially fell down last week filed a lawsuit against the building’s owner, the city of Davenport, and engineers and contractors who worked on the building on Monday.
They are accused of knowing the building was failing but keeping tenants in the dark even though their lives were in danger.
Eight days after the shocking structural failure at 324 Main St., also known as The Davenport, the complaint was made in Scott County court.
Since May 28, when the building fell, nine people have been saved. Officials from the city said Monday that the bodies of Branden Colvin Sr., who was 42, Ryan Hitchcock, who was 51, and Daniel Prien, who was 60, were found over the weekend in the rubble.
On Monday, Davenport police said that everyone had been found and that no one else was still missing.
Her lawyer gave NBC News a copy of the complaint that building resident Dayna Feuerbach made.
In the filing, it said that the damage to the building that led to the fall had been “worsening for years.”
The building’s owner, Andrew Wold, and the builders and engineers who worked on the building “knew that the residents were in immediate danger,” but they “let the building fall apart and didn’t tell the people who lived there that their lives were in danger.”
The complaint said that Wold and his companies didn’t take care of the building or make sure that his renters were safe. It also said that the city didn’t listen to repeated warnings about the building’s safety.
“Even though Wold, the City of Davenport, and the licensed engineers knew that the building was going to fall, they did not order the necessary evacuation of the building,” it said.
The lawsuit names as defendants Wold, his companies Davenport Hotel LLC and Andrew Wold Investments LLC, the engineering firm Wold hired to look at his building, Select Structural Engineering LLC, which said the building was safe to stand on just last month, the contractor Bi-State Masonry, and the city of Davenport. It also says who owned the building before, Waukee Investments LLC, and who ran it before, Parkwild Properties.
The accused have been asked to say something. Sarah Ott, the city’s chief strategy officer, said that the city doesn’t talk about lawsuits that are still going on.
“This fall could have been stopped,” the lawsuit said. This terrible tragedy was caused by the Defendants’ carelessness, gross carelessness, outrageous, willful, and wanton behavior, and they must be held responsible.
After a stressful week in which city officials were asked why the building wasn’t shut down or removed earlier, the lawsuit was filed.
Last week, the city released a group of papers that show that over the past three years, there have been 145 interactions between city officials, Wold, and the property.
Just four days before the collapse, Select Structural Engineering gave the city a report that said big patches of brick “appear ready to fall imminently” and warned that it could fall apart.
Resident was Hit by Falling Debris
The lawsuit said that on May 28, Feuerbach was sitting on her couch in her apartment when a part of the building collapsed.
She heard a “terribly loud noise,” and then the power went out and the alarms went off.
She was “tossed by the force of the collapse” and ran out of her room to run down the stairs with other people trying to get out.
Feuerbach walked through halls that were flooded because of broken pipes and inhaled “lots of dust, debris, and asbestos,” according to the lawsuit.
“She was hit in the head more than once by falling drywall and other things” as she tried to get away, it said.
“Plaintiff was lucky to get away with her life, but the serious physical, mental, and emotional injuries she got in this tragedy will haunt her for the rest of her life,” the suit said.
Jeff Goodman, Feuerbach’s lawyer, said on Monday that she filed the lawsuit to find out what went wrong with the building and to make those who did wrong pay for it.
Goodman has worked on structural collapses before, like the 2021 condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, which killed 98 people, and the 2013 Market Street building collapse in Philadelphia, which killed six.
“It’s a cruel irony that the complaint was made this morning while I was at the memorial for the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the Market Street building here in Philadelphia. “In two weeks, I’ll be in Surfside for the second anniversary of that terrible event,” he said.
He said that in each case, “the owners and local governments were warned over and over again about what could happen, but they didn’t listen.”
“Catastrophic collapses like this don’t happen overnight,” he said. “This building was left alone for years. There had been signs for many years.”
The lawsuit wants a hearing by a jury and damages that aren’t being said.