NEW ORLEANS – On Tuesday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced that the City of New Orleans has filed suit against the parties responsible for the fatal collapse of the Hard Rock project, which killed three Louisianans in October of last year.
The suit, which names the building owners and their partners and contractors, “seeks damages on behalf of the City — as we continue to experience significant harm as a result of this disaster. Owner Mohan Kailas, his partners and their contractors, bear the moral and legal obligation to accept responsibility for this horrific tragedy, and this suit further seeks to hold them accountable.”
“As you heard me say to the entire City last week: We will continue to hold the building’s ownership accountable and stand with our families to seek justice. This lawsuit is a step towards doing just that,” said Mayor Cantrell. “Our City was harmed. Our people were killed. No amount of delay or denial or excuses can change that fact — and we will not allow those responsible to evade responsibility for the damages they have caused to our City.”
“While the City would have preferred to not engage in litigation, we have done so only because the property owners have failed to right the wrongs they have caused,” said City Attorney Sunni LeBeouf.
Since the partial collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel on Oct. 12, 2019, City personnel, led by New Orleans Fire Department Supt. Tim McConnell, have worked diligently to address physical injury to people and property in the area, and to assure, as much as possible, that no further injury occurs.
Now that the remains of Quinnyon Wimberly and Jose Ponce Arreola have been returned to their families, and while work to guard public safety continues, the City must turn its attention to recovery of the losses it sustained as a result of the collapse.
The Hard Rock building collapse not only damaged City property, including streets and infrastructure, it has required the City to divert and expend tremendous public resources for work necessary to respond to the collapse and its horrific consequences — at a cost of at least $12.3 million to taxpayers.
Further, the collapse caused the near-total shutdown of one of the city’s critical economic corridors, including the closure of the Saenger Theatre and other neighboring businesses for months, with business closures continuing in some instances.
Through the lawsuit filed today, the City seeks to have those responsible for the collapse held accountable for making the public whole for the losses the property owners caused. The City has not been compensated in any way for the harm it has suffered in response to this disaster, and this must be addressed immediately in the interest of the people of New Orleans.