Balcony Collapse Litigation


Balcony and deck collapses are all too common–especially in California's Bay Area. Collapses occur through structural defects and through lax and deferred maintenance. An example is the tragic balcony collapse that occurred at 12:41 a.m. on June 16, 2015 in Berkeley, California, which as of 9:00 a.m. had claimed six lives with many more victims in the hospital with major and life threatening injuries. Most of the victims of this tragedy were Irish students spending their summer on work visas.  

CPM also represented a pregnant woman who suffered severe injuries in Orange County when a balcony collapsed. CPM reached a highly successful result.

CPM specializes in representing victims in cases such as these. Heading the practice is partner Niall McCarthy. Niall has repeatedly been selected as one of the top plaintiff attorneys in California and the United States by multiple publications, including the Daily Journal and the National Law Journal. In every year since 2004, he has been selected as a Northern California "Super Lawyer" by San Francisco Magazine. Niall has been named a Top 100 attorney by the Daily Journal and Super Lawyers Magazine. He has the highest possible rating, AV, from Martindale-Hubbell (a leading ranking system for attorneys in the United States). In 2013, Niall was awarded the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award by the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association. He has also been elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). Niall was named to the 2014 Irish Legal 100 as published by Irish Voice Magazine. 

For further information about CPM’s balcony and deck injury practice, please follow up with Niall McCarthy, Frank Pitre, Anne Marie Murphy, or Darren Kelley.

Among the balcony collapse cases that CPM has handled are the following:

Malhotra et al. v. Randall Nathan et al.

Case No. 976685, San Francisco Superior Court, September 24, 1998

Frank Pitre and Niall McCarthy of CPM represented Plaintiffs Shalini Malhotra, Daniel Slane, Karin Lewis and ten other individuals in connection with a fourth-floor balcony collapse case that occurred at 2003 Franklin Street in San Francisco due to construction defects. One person died and another suffered severe brain injury in the collapse. The victims were at a party in the San Francisco building when their fourth-story balcony collapsed. The jury awarded $12,389,050 to the victims of the fall against the property manager and landlord who negligently maintained the residential deck that collapsed. As part of the verdict, the landlord was required to live in his own badly maintained building. The $12 million dollar verdict brought attention to the high rate of balcony collapses in the Bay Area.

Birusingh v. Tom

Case No. CGC 95 968644, San Francisco Superior Court

CPM represented the victims of a four-story balcony collapse that occurred at 610 Lake Street in the Richmond District neighborhood of San Francisco. An out of court settlement was reached. The collapse was the result of dry rot. As alleged in the pleadings, tenants Kamla, Kamini, and Karen Birusingh claimed that previous tenants had alerted owner and defendant Faye Tom to the fact that tiny fragments of the balcony were falling off, and that Tom had failed to correct the problem leading to the collapse.

Taggart v. PML Management Corporation and Peninsula Landing Homeowners Association

Case No. CIV 450406, San Mateo Superior Court 

CPM represented Dan Taggart, a local supermarket worker. In the early evening of May 12, 2004, Mr. Taggart arrived home from work and as he walked up the staircase to his condominium, the stairs gave way. He fell six feet and struck the landing between the two-tier staircase and landed on his feet, suffering a compression spinal fracture. After a four-day trial, the jury awarded significant damages and found the defendants 100% at fault.

Ayala v. Kang et al.

Case No. 405384, San Mateo Superior County 

CPM represented the guardian ad litem for a two-year-old boy injured in an East Palo Alto balcony collapse. As alleged, the boy fell twelve feet head first onto a concrete parking surface because the second-floor balcony had no railings. The case was resolved on a highly successful basis for significant damages.


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