NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans has filed a lawsuit against 1031 Canal, the developers of the under-construction Hard Rock Hotel which partially collapsed last year, killing three people.
The lawsuit was filed exactly a week after the final body was recovered from the wreckage, 10 months after the collapse.
It names the building's owners and their partners and contractors as defendants.
"We will continue to hold the building’s ownership accountable and stand with our families to seek justice. This lawsuit is a step towards doing just that,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell in a statement. “Our city was harmed. Our people were killed. No amount of delay or denial or excuses can change that fact — and we will not allow those responsible to evade responsibility for the damages they have caused to our city.”
The remains of Quinnyon Wimberly and Jose Ponce Arreola were removed earlier this month. The body of a third man, Anthony Magrette, was removed from the building the day after the collapse.
City officials said in a statement that now the victims are out, they are turning to recouping losses sustained while dealing with the collapse. According to the city, infrastructure was damaged and the collapse site has required the city to "divert and expend tremendous public resources" of at least $12.3 million.
The fatal collapse on Oct. 12, 2019 shut down one of New Orleans' largest commercial corridors because the building was located at the intersection of Canal and Rampart streets on the edge of the french quarter.
Businesses have had to close or reduce service in the area for months because of the danger of further collapse.
With recovery operations completed, the plan is to demolish the building rather quickly. The work is taking place close to the peak of hurricane season, which typically comes in mid-August and lasts until early October.
In a previous statement, 1031 Canal outlined the plan to move forward with demolition.
"At this point in the process, the contractor will shift to the demolition of the upper floors, which will be followed by demolition of the lower level parking garage, and finally removal of all debris from the corner of Canal and Rampart," the statement read.
They did not immediately provide a response to the litigation against them.
The exact reason several tons of concrete fell, blanketing one of New Orleans' most trafficked intersections in dust and debris, is still under investigation.
Eyewitness News investigators have uncovered evidence of improper structural work, negligent city inspectors and other factors that could have led to the deadly incident.
Preliminary findings from an OSHA report about the collapse were released earlier this year, but the full report is sealed as it makes its way through litigation.
OSHA inspectors said in their preliminary findings that the design and engineering of upper floors weren't done properly.
They said floor beams on the 16th floor weren't strong enough, and columns on the 17th and 18th floors were too far apart and carried too much weight.