LOS ANGELES, April 9 -- The families of four people killed when the Northridge Meadows apartment complex collapsed during the Jan. 17 quake will file wrongful death lawsuits Tuesday in state court in Los Angeles.
Attorney William Downey said the lawsuits will target the building's owner, Shashikant Jogani and his wife, Renuka, and Heller Construction Co., which built the 160-unit complex in the suburban college town of Northridge.
The three-story building pancaked during the 6.8 quake, killing 16 people and injuring dozens of others. It also became one of the most stirring symbols of devastation caused by the temblor.
The families of Pil Soon Lee, Howard Lee, Darla Enos and Ruth Wilhelm contend the defendants knew or should have known about the building's structural deficiencies.
The lawsuit contends that the defendants 'built, constructed, inspected, repaired, maintained, managed and controlled the premises in an unsafe manner, causing the risk of partial or total collapse.'
Those filing suits will include Hyn Sook Lee and her 8-year-old son, Jason, for the wrongful death of her husband, Pil, and her 14-year-old son, Howard. She and her son also were injured in the collapse.
The other plaintiffs are George Enos, whose wife, Darla, was killed when the ceiling collapsed on her as she slept; and Julian Ellenburg, whose mother was killed in the apartment collapse.
The lawsuits do not ask for a specific amount of damages because that is banned under California law, but Downey said a 'human life is never worth under $1 million.'
The families of three other victims killed in the apartment collapse already have filed wrongful death suits.
The complex, which was condemned soon after the quake, is being torn down. Some have suggested that a memorial to the 16 victims should take its place.
Up to 60 deaths are blamed on the earthquake.