Oakland, Calif., will pay $32.7 million US to settle lawsuits filed over a 2016 fire at an illegally converted warehouse dubbed the Ghost Ship that killed 36 people, the city announced Thursday.
The City Council authorized settlements of lawsuits filed by the families of 32 victims. The amount also includes more than $9 million US for Sam Maxwell, who survived the blaze but “will live with severe, lifelong injuries and major medical expenses,” a city statement said.
“This was a horrific tragedy that deeply impacted every corner of our community,” said the statement from the city attorney’s office.
The settlement is one of the largest in city history but Paul Matiasic, an attorney for five families, called it “insignificant.”
“There’s no amount of money in the world that can bring their loved ones back,” he told the East Bay Times. His clients contended the city was negligent and should have red-tagged the building.
The city doesn’t acknowledge any liability in the agreement but decided to settle because of the possible legal costs, the statement said.
On Dec. 2, 2016, fire swept through the warehouse during an electronic music party. The industrial building had illegally been turned into a residence for artists and an event venue.
The building was packed with furniture, extension cords and other flammable material but had only two exits and no smoke detectors, fire alarms or sprinklers, authorities said.
Derick Almena, the warehouse’s master leaseholder, was charged with criminal negligence but a judge declared a mistrial last fall. His retrial is scheduled for October.