New Orleans sues Hard Rock Hotel developers, insurance companies over collapse costs

(Photo: Infrogmation | CC)
New Orleans officials last week filed a lawsuit against the developers of the Hard Rock Hotel, seeking to recover the costs of lost tax revenue and the city operations involved in the building’s collapse, including recovering the bodies of the workers killed in the collapsed in October 2019.

In the lawsuit filed Aug. 25 in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, officials accuse 1031 Canal Development LLC and several other defendants of negligence leading up to the collapse to the Hard Rock Hotel on Oct. 12, 2019.

Defendants include 1031 Canal Owner, LLC, owner and developer of the hotel property; Citadel Buildings, the general contractor; Heaslip Engineering and owner James Heaslip, whose company performed project design and coordination; Harry Baker Smith Architects II; and Suncoast Projects, a Florida company that provided the building’s steel.

The defendants are accused, among other things, of building an unsafe structure, creating inadequate construction plans, failing to properly supervise construction, using inadequate materials and hiring unqualified workers.

As a result, the city has incurred “tremendous and continuing costs” of responding to the collapse, including the “consumption of substantial public resources” to address the injuries related to the collapse and recovering the construction workers’ remains.

Costs include preserving evidence at the construction site, dedicating city personnel to protect the site and “significant” losses in tax revenue.

Additionally, defendants include several insurance companies because they are providers of the policies covering the defendants’ “negligent acts and omissions” and are “also liable to the city for the damages it has incurred,” according to the lawsuit.

The city is currently involved in code enforcement proceedings, the costs of which are also sought by the plaintiff.

“The city’s damages will therefore continue to accrue until such time as the demolition of the building collapse is complete and the construction is fully cleared from all vices and defects,” according to the lawsuit.

The 18-story Hard Rock Hotel collapsed shortly after 9 a.m., killing Anthony Magrette, 49, Quinnyon Wimberly, 36, and Jose Ponce Arreola, 63 and injuring dozens more.

Magrette’s body was recovered the day after the collapse. The body’s of Arreola and Wimberly were recovered earlier this month.


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