None of the various contractors involved in the construction of the Berkeley balcony that collapsed last year and killed 7 students will face criminal charges. While saying that it’s “likely” that responsibility for the failure lies with parties involved in the construction or maintenance of the building, Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley announced that it would be difficult to prove that any individual or company was guilty of criminal negligence. Water that had been encapsulated in the balcony deck during construction caused the rot that led to the collapse, according to experts involved in the case. Weather data indicates that Berkeley recorded almost 38 inches of rain during the winter of 2005-2006.
This doesn’t mean that primary contractor Segue Construction and other subcontractors are off the hook, though. In fact, 13 civil lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the students who were killed or injured in the collapse. "Much of the information generated, the facts developed, the witnesses identified and the evidence collected in the criminal investigation will benefit the bereaved families and the injured students as they now prosecute the civil actions that have been filed," said attorney Michael Kelly, whose firm represents most of the victims and their families.
Meanwhile, the California Contractors State License Board has found that five companies involved in the construction of Library Gardens, the complex where the collapse occurred, failed to meet trade standards and exhibited "poor workmanship". The next step for the case is prosecution in California Administrative Court by the state Justice Department, which could result in a range of penalties from suspension to revocation of their licenses.