Oakland Dismissed from San Pablo Avenue Fire Suit

An Alameda County Superior Court judge has dismissed the City of Oakland from a lawsuit over the deaths of four people in fire at a halfway house last year. Judge Brad Seligman ruled that the state’s immunity laws shielded the city from liability despite criticism that fire inspectors did “too little too late”.

The lawsuit was filed shortly after the March 27, 2017 fire on San Pablo Avenue. It named the building owner – Keith Kim, a nonprofit housing agency – Meade Avenue Housing Associates, and the city as defendants. The fire and the lawsuit came on the heels of the Ghost Ship Fire that killed 36 people and raised questions about the Oakland’s commitment to fire prevention.

Just days before the San Pablo Avenue fire, the building was inspected and cited for numerous fire and safety violations. After the fire, concerns were raised when it was discovered that the city was aware of fire code issues at the San Pablo Avenue location dating back to 2015.

Judge Seligman concluded that under California law municipalities and government inspectors are entitled to immunity for inspection failures. As such, the court made no factual determinations as to whether the city was in fact negligent or otherwise at fault in failing to inspect the building sooner or take more decisive action in the days prior to the fire

I was unable to locate a copy of the ruling online. Here is more on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

Check Also

Fired FDNY EMT Suit Alleges Disability Discrimination

An EMT with FDNY who was terminated in April has filed suit claiming she is being discriminated against on account of a perceived disability. Giovanna Gonzalez filed suit claiming the city violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act.

Retaliation Suit Against LA City Dismissed

A probationary firefighter with the Los Angeles City Fire Department who filed suit in 2020 contending his termination was retaliation for complaining about hazing and harassment, has agreed to dismiss his suit. Daniel Eble sued the city in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging five state law employment violations.