Crime & Justice

LA sues Da Vinci Apartments developer over massive 2014 fire

In this early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Los Angeles firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor Freeway (Interstate 110) in Downtown Los Angeles. The massive inferno gutted the 1.3 million-square-foot Da Vinci complex and damaged adjacent office towers. No one was hurt.
In this early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Los Angeles firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor Freeway (Interstate 110) in Downtown Los Angeles. The massive inferno gutted the 1.3 million-square-foot Da Vinci complex and damaged adjacent office towers. No one was hurt.
Damian Dovarganes/AP
In this early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Los Angeles firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor Freeway (Interstate 110) in Downtown Los Angeles. The massive inferno gutted the 1.3 million-square-foot Da Vinci complex and damaged adjacent office towers. No one was hurt.
In this early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Los Angeles firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor Freeway (Interstate 110) in Downtown Los Angeles. The massive inferno gutted the 1.3 million-square-foot Da Vinci complex and damaged adjacent office towers. No one was hurt.
Damian Dovarganes/AP
In this early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Los Angeles firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor Freeway (Interstate 110) in Downtown Los Angeles. The massive inferno gutted the 1.3 million-square-foot Da Vinci complex and damaged adjacent office towers. No one was hurt.
Firefighters douse flames at the remains of the DaVinci Apartments complex after a fire destroyed the 1 million-square-foot site in Downtown Los Angeles on Dec. 8, 2014.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
In this early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Los Angeles firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor Freeway (Interstate 110) in Downtown Los Angeles. The massive inferno gutted the 1.3 million-square-foot Da Vinci complex and damaged adjacent office towers. No one was hurt.
Arson investigators from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigate the site of the 1.3 million-square-foot Da Vinci residential complex on Dec. 10, 2014 in Downtown Los Angeles. The complex was destroyed by a huge fire in the early morning hours two days earlier.
Barbara Davidson/Getty Images
In this early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, file photo, Los Angeles firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor Freeway (Interstate 110) in Downtown Los Angeles. The massive inferno gutted the 1.3 million-square-foot Da Vinci complex and damaged adjacent office towers. No one was hurt.
Arson investigators from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigate the site of the 1.3 million-square-foot Da Vinci residential complex on Dec. 10, 2014 in Downtown Los Angeles. The complex was destroyed by a huge fire in the early morning hours two days earlier.
Barbara Davidson/Getty Images


The city of Los Angeles is suing the developer of the downtown apartment complex that burned in December 2014 while still under construction, alleging the company was negligent for not taking action to mitigate the massive fire.

L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer on Thursday announced his office had filed a lawsuit against GH Palmer Associates, owner of the Da Vinci Apartments along the 101 Freeway, claiming $20 million in damages to city property.

“We're fighting to fully compensate the city's taxpayers for losses we allege could have been avoided had this massive building incorporated key safety measures and been better constructed," Feuer said in a press release.

The civil lawsuit names real estate developer Geoffrey H. Palmer and his company, alleging the company created a fire hazard at 900 West Temple Street "by failing to properly maintain, construct and manage the property according to code."

The complaints against the company include:

The fire broke out at the construction site for the apartments early on the morning of Dec. 8, 2014.

In May, police arrested Dawud Abdulwali, 56, of Los Angeles, and charged him with arson of a structure and aggravated arson. Abdulwali has pleaded not guilty to both charges and is awaiting trial while being held in jail on more than $1 million bail. He faces a maximum of 10 years to life in state prison.

Prosecutors allege Abdulwali used an accelerant to start the fire on the fourth floor of the seven-story complex.

"The giant blaze, facilitated by combustible material including fully exposed wood framing several stories high, created large plumes of smoke, a rain of ash and soot and melting heat," Feuer's statement said. "The resulting heat from the fire was allegedly able to travel across the street and damage neighboring properties owned and leased by the City of Los Angeles. The city also incurred extensive water damages due to fire-sprinkler activation and firefighting activities needed to prevent the fire from spreading."

KPCC has reached out to the developer for comment.