On Wednesday, the New Orleans City Council decided to form a special committee to investigate the October collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel. In that tragedy, three workers were killed and several injured when the top floors collapsed.
To date, the Louisiana Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and OSHA have launched their own individual investigations into the accident. The mayor of New Orleans is also investigating corruption within the city’s Department of Safety and Permits.
Preliminary investigations found that the pile load test results submitted for the Hard Rock Hotel, actually came from a different project at another location. And this news has investigators wondering whether this had been done by accident or in order to create a cover-up.
Law Suits Filed
A few lawsuits have already been filed against several builders and developers including:
- General contractor, Citadel Builders
- Main developer, 1031 Canal Development LLC
- Developer Kailas Companies
- Heaslip Engineering
- Harry Baker Smith Architects
- All Star Electric
The lawsuits contend that project team leaders were negligent in numerous ways all throughout the construction process. One of the main assertions is that concrete was not allowed to cure properly, causing it to be weak. Others are alleging that the concrete poured on upper floors didn’t have enough support as it cured, creating a dangerous situation.
City Council President Helen Moreno, commented that, “It is our duty to these men and to the families of these men to ask questions, to review information, to dig deep because answers and justice is what they deserve. It is our duty to provide oversight on the path forward.”
City of New Orleans
Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell believes that the city has been very transparent about the accident, cooperating with all OSHA and OIG inquiries. She has also stated that this latest investigation could severely impact the demolition agreement that would completely remove the broken structure.
An excerpt from Cantrell’s letter highlights her concerns: “Your decision to move forward with a Special Council Hearing, in an effort to provide a forum for the public to air its frustration with the Hard Rock Hotel Collapse, is ill-advised at this time and puts the timely demolition and the ongoing investigation of the site at-risk,” Cantrell wrote. “Given these concerns, my staff will not be present at the hearing.”
The investigations and lawsuits could easily go on for several more years. But many believe that there was negligence at every level leading to the catastrophe.