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Owner of collapsed Iowa apartment building files lawsuit passing the blame

The owner of an Iowa apartment building that partially collapsed, killing three people, has blamed an engineering company in a new lawsuit.

Andrew Wold claims that the firm failed to warn him that the building was structurally unsound and that its residents needed to be evacuated.

The lawsuit against Select Structural Engineering was filed more than three months after the partial collapse in Davenport, Iowa, on 28 May.

Mr Wold claims that the company did not identify the risk of collapse, the danger of collapse or the repairs that could have avoided the collapse.

“At no time did Select Structural opine that the defects in the west wall would require an evacuation of the building,” the lawsuit states, according to The Quad-City Times.

“To the contrary, Select Structural expressly stated that the Davenport Hotel was not in danger of collapse and that no evacuation was necessary.”

Three men died when a side of the six-story building collapsed and rescuers had to amputate a woman’s leg to remove her from the rubble.

FILE - A police officer sits parked at the site of a building collapse at the start of demolition, Monday, June 12, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP)
FILE - A police officer sits parked at the site of a building collapse at the start of demolition, Monday, June 12, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP)

The newspaper also reported on an email sent from a city code enforcement officer to himself to document a colleague’s comments on the danger posed by the building.

Officer Tom Van De Wiele wrote in the email two days after the collapse that another enforcement officer, Anthony Haut, had shown him pictures of the building that he said showed the danger of collapse.

In the 30 May email, Mr Van De Wiele wrote, “He was frustrated and whispered to me that ‘the whole side is going to come down.’”

The email was among 2,000 messages obtained by the newspaper through a public records request.

Mr Van De Wiele reportedly wrote that he told Mr Haut he should tell his supervisors, Rich Oswald or Beth Bringolf.

Mr Haut replied: “I have and Rich told me to back off and don’t worry about it.”

Since the collapse, a string of lawsuits have been filed by residents of the 16-year-old building claiming negligence by the owner, city officials and the engineering company.

Documents released by the city show that all parties were aware that the building had structural issues but that the engineering company had told them there was no “imminent threat.”

None of the parties in the emails responded to comment requests from the newspaper and Assistant City Attorney Brian Heyer said that city employees are not allowed to respond to media enquiries.