First civil lawsuits filed in Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire

ByMelanie Woodrow via KGO logo
Saturday, December 24, 2016
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The first cases have been filed in connection with the Ghost Ship fire. They're on behalf of victims Michela Gregory and Griffin Madden.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The first civil lawsuits have been filed in the Oakland Ghost Ship fire that claimed 36 lives. They're on behalf of victims Michela Gregory and Griffin Madden.

Madden, a UC Berkeley graduate, was from New Jersey and Gregory was from Oakland; both died in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire. They were among 36 killed when a fire broke out at a party at the Oakland warehouse three weeks ago.

On Friday, attorney Mary Alexander filed two wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of the Gregory and Madden families. The lawsuits name the building's owner Chor Ng and landlord Derick Ion Almena, event promoters, and neighboring landlords, who according to the lawsuits were supplying electricity to the Ghost Ship.

"It didn't have the permits for residences; it didn't have the permits for events. There was no fire alarms, no sprinklers, no good egress or way to exit," said Alexander.

According to the lawsuits and claims filed Friday, the Ghost Ship Warehouse was a "death trap."

"There's not a day that goes by that we don't miss her," said David Gregory, Michela's father. He described his daughter as taken too soon. Michela Gregory died in her boyfriend, Alex Vega's, arms.

"They had every gift, but the gift of time," said Alexander.

PHOTOS: 36 victims of Oakland warehouse fire identified

Outside the Ghost Ship, also known as Satya Yuga, a memorial continues to grow.

Heidi Romero said Almena had a way of connecting with the people he rented space to. "The last thing anybody should do is punish him for loving these people when they needed it," said Romero.

But the Gregorys said those named should be held accountable. "We will never see them again and we just want justice," said Gregory.

The attorney for the two families also filed claims against the City of Oakland and Alameda County. The city said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Attorneys for the building's owner and landlord did not respond to requests for comment.

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