Ghost Ship Civil Attorney Expects Different Outcome In Case Against Oakland, PG&E, Others

Megan Goldsby
September 06, 2019 - 10:38 am
Oakland Firefighters Ghost Ship Warehouse

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

OAKLAND (KCBS Radio) —The recent outcome of the Ghost Ship criminal trial will have no effect on the civil case that's set to reach court in the spring, according to the attorney representing victims' families. 

Some of those relatives were disappointed that the jury acquitted Max Harris of 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter on Tbursday and failed to reach a verdict for co-defendant Derick Almena. 

But Mary Alexander, the lead counsel in the civil suit, said that Oakland city officials and PG&E will not be let off the hook for their alleged negligence before a fast-moving fire broke out in a warehouse party. The blaze claimed the lives of 36 people in December 2016. 

"We do not feel that the results of the criminal case hurt our case in the civil trial at all, because of the negligence and the uncaring and the disregard for the safety and health of the public by the city of Oakland, by the building owner and by PG&E," she said. "So we'll have a trial in May, and we look forward to proving the case."

Related: Jury Acquits One Ghost Ship Defendant, Can't Reach Verdict On Other

Almena and Harris are not defendants in the civil case. 

Alexander stressed that it was common knowledge among city officials that the warehouse was used for gatherings and had been illegally converted into a residential space. 

"The city knew, the police knew, the firemen knew, that this place had people living in it, that they were using it like a cabaret, that there were events that were happening, and they failed to stop it and protect the people, and as a result, these 36 beautiful young people died," Alexander said. "We want to complete the circle of justice for the families who are disappointed in the verdicts."