The families of two victims of the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire have filed the first lawsuits following the tragic blaze that killed 36 people.
San Francisco State University student Michela Gregory and Griffin Madden were among the victims of the December 2nd fire. Now, their families have filed lawsuits against the building's owner Chor Nar Siu Ng, Ghost Ship proprietor Derick "Ion" Almena and those responsible for promoting and hosting the performance, including Los Angeles label 100% silk and performer Golden Donna.
"We are still grieving from this awful tragedy like everyone else," 100% Silk's co-owner Britt Brown told Fader. "I can only imagine how Michela and Griffin’s families must be feeling, our hearts ache for them."
"We have filed this lawsuit against the owners of the building, ... against those who were involved with the event, the promoters and the person who was putting on the show. And we have also filed against the person who was like the manager," said attorney Mary Alexander, who is representing both families.
The Gregory and Madden families have also sued the city of Oakland and Alameda County, but per the California Tort Claims Act, those government entities were listed in a separate lawsuit, CNN reports. In that suit, the families cite "negligence" on the part of city officials to shut down the art space, which lacked the necessary permits to conduct shows.
Gregory's family filed the first lawsuit on December 23rd, with the Madden family joining the lawsuit soon after.
"It's really horrific, irresponsible actions and inactions on the part of this building owner, those associated with this event and the city that cost the life of this beautiful young lady and the lives of 35 others," Alexander told The Associated Press on December 23rd.
The lawsuit alleges that neither Gregory or Madden died instantaneously in the blaze. Gregory's "body was found inside the Ghost Ship with her boyfriend of five years, Alex Vega. Alex's arms were wrapped around Michela, trying to protect her from the fire," says one of the lawsuits.
Gregory and Madden both fruitlessly searched for an escape from the pitch-black, labyrinthine venue before resigning themselves to their death, the lawsuit added, and both were "injured and suffered from the injuries caused by the fire and smoke for many minutes before dying."
The Alameda County district attorney's office is still determining whether any criminal charges will be filed following the deadly fire.
Lawyers for Ng and Almena did not respond to the AP's request for comment following the lawsuit. Almena is being represented by well-known Bay Area attorney Tony Serra, who previously stated that Almena "committed no conduct amounting to criminal negligence. He should not be made a scapegoat."