Relatives of UC Berkeley alumnus who died in Oakland fire file lawsuit

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The family members of two victims who perished in the Oakland warehouse fire Dec. 2, including UC Berkeley alumnus Griffin Madden, filed civil lawsuits in Alameda County Superior Court on Friday against several people associated with the “Ghost Ship” warehouse.

One lawsuit was filed on behalf of 23-year-old Madden, as first reported by KTVU, and another was filed on behalf of Michela Gregory, a 20-year-old San Francisco State University student who died clutching her boyfriend, Alex Vega. These are the first known suits filed in connection with the Oakland fire, according to the East Bay Times.

The suit filed by Madden’s parents, Michael and Catherine Madden, alleges that the defendants were negligent with regards to the safety conditions of the “Ghost Ship” warehouse and are liable for Madden’s death. It also alleges that the defendants did not obtain permits to convert the warehouse into a residential or public event space.

Nine defendants are listed in the suit, including Chor Nar Siu Ng, the owner of the warehouse; her daughter Eva Ng; warehouse managers Derick Ion Almena and Micah Allison; and warehouse lessors Daniel Lopez and Omar Vega. Joel Shanahan, the performer at the warehouse the night of the fire, known most commonly by the stage name Golden Donna; Jon Hrabko, who organized and promoted the event; and Los Angeles record label 100% Silk were also listed as defendants in the suit.

The Maddens are being represented by Mary Alexander & Associates, a San Francisco law firm. In their suit, the Maddens demanded a trial by jury.

The firm could not immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit.

Ng has hired attorney Keith Bremer from the firm Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara to represent her, while Almena is being represented by attorney Tony Serra, according to the East Bay Times. Neither Bremer nor Serra could be reached for comment on the lawsuit.

“Said defendants had mandatory and nondelegable duties to inspect and maintain said property in a safe and usable condition, and to repair any dangerous or unsafe conditions,” the lawsuit states. “Each of them, were somehow negligent or otherwise responsible for the injuries and death of Griffin Madden and the damages alleged herein.”

The suit calls the warehouse a “death trap,” alleging that it was poorly constructed and lacked a safe and accessible exit, as well as adequate fire-safety measures.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Madden’s and Gregory’s relatives also filed claims against the city of Oakland and Alameda County.

Check back for updates.

Chantelle Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.

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  • Jim Harvey

    Of course they sued the city and county, even though they have no responsibility.
    None of the defendants have any money, but governments always do.

    • Mark Miller

      Is that a joke? The city admitted liability to the media by stating they failed to inspect the premises despite multiple complaints from neighbors. The city, at the very least, are passively culpable. And, the owners of the warehouse own multiple other properties that can be sold off to settle a judgement. Don’t comment on something you clearly have not made yourself aware of.

    • still trying

      As a retired fire inspector, Oakland really messed up. The City is actually more liable than the property owner in this situation. These same transgressions are also happening in Berkeley. Hopefully, Berkeley wakes up before it is too late.