Lawsuit claims Hard Rock developers fudged tests, didn’t allow concrete to cure

NEW ORLEANS – Ten people who suffered a variety of injuries when the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed last weekend have filed a civil lawsuit against developers, engineers, and architects connected to the disaster.

The lawsuit, which was filed on October 17 in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, seeks unspecified damages relating to hospital bills, litigation costs, and punitive damages.

Steve Herman of Herman Herman & Katz and Rene Rocha of Morgan & Morgan, the two firms that are representing the victims of the collapse, said in a statement that the goal is to prevent this type of disaster from happening again.

“The primary goal is to get to the bottom of exactly what happened, and make sure that nothing like this ever happens again,” the joint statement reads.

The 10 people who were injured suffered neck, back, eye, shoulder, head, and respiratory injuries due to the falling debris, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit lists 1031 Canal Development, L.L.C., Kailas, Companies L.L.C., Harry Baker Smith Architects II P.L.L.C., Heaslip Engineering L.L.C., and Citadel Builders L.L.C. as defendants.

“This major building collapse would not have occurred, but for the negligence and failures of the defendants,” the lawsuit reads.

A string of delays, including one sparked by the conviction of project spokesperson and developer Praveen Kailas for conspiracy to commit theft of government funds, severely hampered the project, according to the lawsuit.

“The design, planning, and construction of the structure at 1031 Canal was inadequate, likely to cause harm, and did cause harm to plaintiffs and others,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants failed to design the structure in a manner that could bear the loads the structure was intended to hold. Further, defendants failed to use equipment and materials necessary to bear such loads.”

Pile load tests to determine if the location where the Hard Rock Hotel was intended to be built could support a load of 125 tons were never delivered, according to the lawsuit.

Instead, developers submitted the results of pile load tests from a different site at a different location, and the submitted tests were only for a load of 50 tons.

In addition, an insufficient number of horizontal beams, fill beams, and pole jacks were used, and the reshoring efforts were inadequate to support the building’s 30 x 30 foot concrete spans.

Due to the project running behind schedule, the concrete that was poured was not allowed to cure for an adequate amount of time, according to the lawsuit.

Despite warnings days before the collapse from workers on the site, project managers are accused of pressing ahead with the construction.

So far, two people have died and a third who is trapped in the rubble is presumed dead, and dozens were sent to emergency rooms with injuries.