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Davenport couple seeks damages in lawsuit, accuses property of negligence

Quanishia "Peach" Berry and her wife were living in The Davenport apartment complex before the collapse. Peach had her leg amputated as a result of the collapse.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — In the days since the Davenport apartment collapse, a trio of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of people who were inside the building at the moment it crumbled.

Local 5 took a closer look at at the lawsuit filed on behalf of Peach and Lexus Berry, whose attorneys say the entire event was completely avoidable.

In the lawsuit, lawyers say the building's owner, Andrew Wold, took over the building in 2021. Within one month, he received a complaint notice from the city of Davenport, calling the structure "substandard."

Lawyers say Wold did nothing with this notice. The second complaint he received months later was more formal in nature, calling the building a "nuisance."

Fast forward to February of this year, when MidAmerican Energy, an electric and gas utility, refused to allow employees to work on the property until building improvements were made.

Lawyers claim that triggered Wold to hire a company to perform an emergency visit and inspection, which found bricks on the west wall of the building were cracked and crumbling.

That same day, the city of Davenport declared the structure a public hazard, saying the concerns needed immediate attention. They called for beams to be shored up with heavy posts until permanent repairs could be applied.

Wold subsequently hired an engineering company to start work later that month. Workers came across a large hole--roughly 12 to 14 inches wide--between the concrete and facade.

In their report, the engineers said this would soon cause a large panel of facade to collapse, creating a safety hazard and potentially destabilizing the upper areas of facade.

Lawyers say even with multiple safety concerns raised by different entities, tenants were never alerted or evacuated from the building.

They claim Wold fired the engineers a week into their work over a high cost estimate, also turning down a different firm over the cost of their work. 

Lawyers hold that while some improvements were made in March and April, necessary shoring up and bracing was never completed.

Five days before the collapse, another site visit from engineers revealed dire concerns, including large patches of facade bulging outward and ready to fall.

Then three days before collapse, the city returned for an inspection, finding what lawyers describe as a "pathetic" attempt from Wold to make it look like he was complying with inspection requirements: He put up two by four pieces of lumber, un-anchored to the ground and unable to hold up the building.

Lawyers hold firm that the city didn't take action on Wold's lack of efforts, nor did they or Wold warn tenants about any safety concerns.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of the Berrys' also includes one claim from an engineer whose work was turned down by Wold over cost. He had driven past the building two days before collapse and spotted bricks laying on the ground, telling workers in the area, "get away, you're going to die."

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