The company that owns the ill-fated Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans filed suit this week against a host of construction contractors, subcontractors and insurance companies over the 2019 building collapse that killed three workers and injured dozens more.
The suit was filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court late Monday, the first anniversary of the collapse of the upper floors of the 18-story building.
The ownership group, 1031 Canal Development, is led by Mohan Kailas. But company officials have said principals of two of the project’s main contractors — Denzel Clark, owner of general contractor Citadel Builders, and Todd Trosclair, owner of electrical contractor All-Star Electric — also owned a share.
The development company blames the building’s failure on Citadel, All-Star, Heaslip Engineering, architect Harry Baker Smith and 15 other subcontractors. Because of the company’s contract with Citadel to build the hotel at Canal and North Rampart streets, it also sued the insurance providers of each contractor and subcontractor.
The lawsuit takes particular aim at Heaslip, whom investigators for the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration have cited for several key violations. The development company’s suit asserts that Heaslip failed to design the proper support beams and columns or to calculate the proper loads that each floor could support. It branches out from there to the lead contractor, Citadel, and the various trades subcontractors.
Nearly a year after the top floors of the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed, killing three workers, injuring 18 others and straining city resources, N…
“Just as Heaslip did not run appropriate load calculations and analyses, neither did the general contractor or any subcontractor or supplier,” 1031 Canal alleges.
The owners also blame steel subcontractor Hub Steel for the way it fabricated and installed beams and metal decking on the upper floors. Metal decking was used like pans for pouring concrete on the top 10 floors of the building. An investigation by WWL television and The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate in November showed how the gage of metal decking was changed and the spans required to support the decking with steel beams did not match what was in the structural plans.
“The decking system designed, manufactured and installed by Hub Steel was improperly erected and installed and/or was inadequately designed for the building,” 1031 Canal alleges.
The suit says the decking system caused too much weight to be placed on the 16th floor, which contributed to the collapse. It also asserts that “load calculations and analyses would have established that the building had structural problems,” but that no alarms were raised because the subcontractors either did not do the analyses or ignored the red flags raised by the tests.
Citadel either knew or should have known