Former resident sues Berkeley Student Cooperative for negligence, premise liability

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Daniela Cervantes/File

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A former Berkeley Student Cooperative, or BSC, resident filed a lawsuit Monday against the BSC for negligence and premise liability.

The plaintiff, Vasudha Doijode, was a resident of the Person of Color Theme House, also known as Castro, which is located at 2310 Prospect St. About midnight Nov. 5, 2016, Doijode was descending the stairs outside of the premises. She alleges in the lawsuit that, because of lack of lighting in the area, she tripped and fell. Upon impact, she broke her two front teeth and suffered abrasions to her face and lips.

According to the lawsuit, aside from being unlit, the stairs were also made of uneven bricks. It further alleges that no warning signs were placed around the area.

Because of the injuries she suffered, Doijode incurred medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress and long-term deprivation of well-being, according to the lawsuit. Doijode is suing the BSC for an award of general damages, medical costs and attorney fees, among other claims.

Doijode’s attorney at the California Trial Law Group, Carmen Gutman, said there is no official statement from either the firm or Doijode.

According to BSC Executive Director Kim Benson, the BSC has not yet been served with notice of the lawsuit and cannot comment on the matter at this time.

A resident of one of the cooperative buildings, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from the BSC, said that while parts of the facilities may be unsafe, the BSC usually tries to resolve situations as soon as possible. The resident also noted, however, that other concerns with the facilities remain.

The anonymous resident said many of the structures are not retrofitted for earthquake damage. While the BSC has a plan and schedule for retrofitting all of the building structures, residents have remained concerned. According to the student, there are other facility-related issues in the houses, such as active allergens or residential rooms that are not up to fire or building codes.

“I believe that the BSC is aware of these issues but has not addressed them,” the anonymous resident said.

Jenny Weng is the lead crime and courts reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jennyweng1999.