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Resident of collapsed Iowa building sues property owner and contractors

Dayna Feuerbach’s complaint says the owner of The Davenport and those who worked on it "allowed the building to deteriorate while failing to warn residents that their lives were in danger.”
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A resident of the Iowa building that partly collapsed last week filed a lawsuit Monday against its owner, the city of Davenport and engineers and contractors who worked on the building, alleging that they knew it was failing but intentionally kept tenants in the dark, even though their lives were in danger.

The complaint was filed in Scott County court eight days after the shocking structural failure at 324 Main St., known as The Davenport.

Since the collapse May 28, nine people have been rescued. City officials said Monday that the bodies of three people — Branden Colvin Sr.; 42; Ryan Hitchcock, 51; and Daniel Prien, 60 — were recovered from the rubble over the weekend.

Davenport police said Monday that all had been accounted for and that no other residents were still missing.

A copy of the complaint, filed by Dayna Feuerbach, who lived in the building, was shared with NBC News by her lawyer.

The filing said the structural damage that caused the collapse had been “worsening for years.”

The building's owner, Andrew Wold, and contractors and engineers who worked on the building “recognized the imminent danger residents faced” yet “allowed the building to deteriorate while failing to warn residents that their lives were in danger.”

The complaint accused Wold and his companies of having failed to maintain the building and keep his tenants safe, and it accused the city of having failed to heed repeated warnings about the building's integrity.

"Despite knowledge of the inevitable nature of this collapse, neither Wold, the City of Davenport, nor the licensed engineers ordered the necessary evacuation of the building," it said.

The lawsuit names as defendants Wold; his companies Davenport Hotel LLC and Andrew Wold Investments LLC; Select Structural Engineering LLC, an engineering firm Wold hired to assess his building, which deemed the property structurally safe as recently as last month; contractor Bi-State Masonry; and the city of Davenport. It also names the building's previous owner, Waukee Investments LLC, and its previous management company, Parkwild Properties. 

The defendants have been asked for comment. Davenport’s chief strategy officer, Sarah Ott, said the city doesn't comment on pending litigation.

The complaint said: "This collapse was preventable. The negligence, gross negligence, and the reckless, outrageous, willful and wanton conduct of the Defendants caused this devastating tragedy, and they must be held liable."

The suit comes after a tense week during which city officials fielded criticism over why the building wasn’t shut down or vacated earlier.

The city last week released a cache of documents revealing 145 interactions among Davenport officials, Wold and the property over the past three years. 

Just four days before the collapse, Select Structural Engineering released a report with the city that said large patches of brick “appear ready to fall imminently” and warned that it was at risk of crumbling. 

Resident was hit by falling debris

Feuerbach was relaxing on her sofa in her apartment when a part of the building caved in on May 28, the complaint said.

She heard a “tremendously loud sound," and then power cut out and alarms blared.

She was “tossed by the force of the collapse” and ran out of her apartment to join other residents scrambling down the stairs to escape.

Feuerbach waded through hallways flooded with water from broken pipes and inhaled “copious amounts of dust and debris, as well as asbestos,” the complaint said.

“She was struck in the head multiple times by falling drywall and other debris” in her escape, it said.

“Plaintiff was lucky to escape with her life, but her remaining years will be marred by the significant physical, psychological, and emotional injuries she sustained in this tragedy," the suit said.

Jeff Goodman, an attorney for Feuerbach, said Monday that she was motivated to file the suit to get answers about what led to the building failure and to hold those responsible accountable. 

Goodman has worked with structural collapses before, including the 2021 condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, which killed 98 people, and the 2013 Market Street building collapse in Philadelphia, which killed six.

“In a cruel irony, while the complaint was being filed this morning, I was actually at the memorial for the 10-year anniversary of the Market Street building collapse here in Philadelphia. Two weeks from now, I will be in Surfside as we mark the second anniversary of that tragedy," he said.

He said that in each case, “there was warning after warning that was given to the owners, as well as the municipalities, of what might happen, and those warnings were ignored."

"Catastrophic collapses like this don’t happen overnight," he added. "There was years of neglect at this building. There were years of warnings that were given."

The suit seeks a trial by jury and undisclosed compensatory and punitive damages.