"Even people who knew the building would have a hard time getting out."
- Friend of Ghost Ship owners/managers
Since the Ghost Ship fire on Dec. 3, the lawyers of Girardi | Keese have been leading an investigation on behalf of a number of survivors and families of victims who lost their lives. Our investigation has revealed new and damaging information against the Ghost Ship owners/managers, as well as against the city of Oakland for its failure to conduct safety inspections.
KQED News quotes a former friend of the Ghost Ship owners/managers, "Even people who knew the building would have a hard time getting out." According to the friend, the owners often moved big slabs of reclaimed wood around in an ongoing effort to reconfigure the space. Then there was the makeshift staircase, leading to the floor above, which wobbled as you climbed. And a "warren of wires," as SFGate reports, snaking around pianos and rugs and sofas.
The list goes on.
Ultimately, these hazardous conditions caused the deaths of 36 people and injured many others.
The owners/managers must have known conditions were unsafe. The city should have, too.
We can assume that the owners knew things weren't safe for those who lived, worked, and partied in the Ghost Ship, but the owners weren't the only people who failed to exercise reasonable care toward others' safety.
Oakland's fire chief has gone incognito in recent weeks, as SFGate reports, likely because the Ghost Ship fire happened in the first place - one of the worst in California's history in terms of fatalities - not to mention that her department did not bother to inspect the place (and, apparently, hasn't inspected many other structures in the area).
To boil it down, you have a situation where the Ghost Ship owners took little to no corrective action on hazards, continued to operate the place as a live-in and party space without permits, and did so under the nose of a city department that either couldn't be bothered or was too overworked to conduct an official safety inspection.
We will push for accountability and justice.
No words can adequately express the pain of loss surviving family members feel. Nor the pain of a burn injury suffered by a survivor. Going after the responsible parties for wrongdoing is often a time when "justice" seems hollow, because nothing can erase what happened.
But we remain committed to holding wrongdoers accountable, which is what we've done on behalf of countless clients throughout the years.