Courts

On first anniversary of Hard Rock Hotel collapse, developer sues contractors, insurers | Courts

The company that owns the ill-fated Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans filed suit this week against a host of construction contractors, subcontractors and insurance companies over the 2019 building collapse that killed three workers and injured dozens more.

The suit was filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court late Monday, the first anniversary of the collapse of the upper floors of the 18-story building.



WWL logo

The ownership group, 1031 Canal Development, is led by Mohan Kailas. But company officials have said principals of two of the project’s main contractors — Denzel Clark, owner of general contractor Citadel Builders, and Todd Trosclair, owner of electrical contractor All-Star Electric — also owned a share.

The development company blames the building’s failure on Citadel, All-Star, Heaslip Engineering, architect Harry Baker Smith and 15 other subcontractors. Because of the company’s contract with Citadel to build the hotel at Canal and North Rampart streets, it also sued the insurance providers of each contractor and subcontractor.

The lawsuit takes particular aim at Heaslip, whom investigators for the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration have cited for several key violations. The development company’s suit asserts that Heaslip failed to design the proper support beams and columns or to calculate the proper loads that each floor could support. It branches out from there to the lead contractor, Citadel, and the various trades subcontractors.

Nearly a year after the top floors of the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed, killing three workers, injuring 18 others and straining city resources, N…

“Just as Heaslip did not run appropriate load calculations and analyses, neither did the general contractor or any subcontractor or supplier,” 1031 Canal alleges.

The owners also blame steel subcontractor Hub Steel for the way it fabricated and installed beams and metal decking on the upper floors. Metal decking was used

Continue Reading

Courts siding with insurance firms over business interruption claims | Business

A growing number of U.S. courts are ruling against employers who’ve filed insurance claims for business interruption coverage stemming from government-ordered coronavirus shutdowns.

The Insurance Information Institute reports insurers have won more than a dozen cases since May, with judges ruling that the policies only kick in if a property sustains physical damage. The business owners had argued that the coverage should have started when local or state governments issued stay-at-home orders that hampered their ability to operate.

A couple of Charleston-area cases are still pending in federal court. Black Magic Cafe says its losses started on March 17, when Gov. Henry McMaster ordered a temporary halt to dine-in services at South Carolina restaurants.

The historic Calhoun Mansion at 10 Meeting St., now known as The Williams Mansion, sued its insurer after a McMaster executive order shut down museums.



Charleston cafe takes on insurance firm in fight over coronavirus claims

A bill that would have required insurance carriers to cover coronavirus-related business losses — co-sponsored by Sen. Sandy Senn, a Charleston Republican, and Sen. Marlon Kimpson, a Charleston Democrat — was introduced in the S.C. Statehouse in April but went nowhere.

Recent court rulings indicate the local cases might be a losing cause.

For example, Judge Thomas Thrash last week dismissed a federal lawsuit brought by restaurant in Georgia, ruling that a government stay-at-home order did not cause the business to sustain direct physical loss of or damage to its insured property or surrounding premises.



Owner of Charleston's historic Calhoun Mansion suing insurer over COVID-19 claims

Similarly, a U.S. District Court judge in Florida last month dismissed a trade show display company’s claims, saying “the plain language of the policies reflect that actual, concrete damage is necessary.”

And in another ruling in California last month, Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo ruled against a pair of barbershops, stating: “Most courts have rejected these claims, finding that the

Continue Reading

Chevron’s health and safety specialist admits taking $6,000 bribes to be lenient to sub-contractor, Courts & Crime News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – A health, environment and safety specialist with Chevron Singapore accepted $6,000 in bribes from a sub-contractor in return for being lenient in supervising his work on the company’s lube oil blending plant.

Cheow Hock Mun, 49, a permanent resident, pleaded guilty on Friday (Oct 9) to two charges of corruption. Another corruption charge will be taken into consideration during sentencing next month.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Eric Hu said Cheow had accepted the money from Lim Gim Chuan, the managing director of LGC Engineering and Contractors, between April and July 2015.

Cheow was in charge of all safety and security matters at the Chevron’s plant in Jalan Buroh, and oversaw the issuing of permits and training of workers at the plant.

There were occasions when he did not approve permits to workers and made several safety checks on site, “many of which were not mandated or required”, said DPP Hu, adding that Cheow had also refused to conduct training for some workers.

The court heard that Cheow had also stopped work for two to three hours and directed materials to be moved to a warehouse, even though these could be barricaded and placed near an excavation site.

“Lim was aware that Cheow was the overall in charge of safety at the lube oil Blending Plant, and that he had the authority to make things difficult by not approving the permits for his workers or by finding faults with them in safety aspects,” said DPP Hu, adding that this would eventually cause delays and financial losses for Lim’s company.

Sometime in April 2015, Lim asked to meet Cheow at the canteen of the oil plant where he offered Cheow $2,000 and asked him to “give a helping hand” in Hokkien, said DPP Hu.

Cheow understood that Lim had meant

Continue Reading

Inmates cook up a storm in Changi catering kitchen as part of training, rehab programme, Courts & Crime News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – When father-of-two Faruk was sentenced to seven years and 10 months’ jail in 2017 for drug-related offences, he did not expect to find a passion for decorating cakes or learning how to fold pastries while behind bars.

The 38-year-old, who declined to give his full name, spends six days a week in a kitchen as part of his work programme during his incarceration in the Changi Prison Complex.

While his family has yet to try his creations, the former mechanic hopes to make his sons, aged 12 and 13, their favourite strawberry cheesecake, when he is released.

“My family was surprised that I could bake cakes. I could see from their faces that they are happy I’m learning because I have never done this kind of thing before,” said Faruk in a phone interview on Wednesday (Oct 7). “(In the kitchen,) I learnt how to be patient, relax, and come up with more ideas to decorate (the cakes).”

He hopes to work in a pastry shop after his release.

About 30 or so inmates are chosen every year to work in The Changi Tearoom, after they have attended correctional programmes that support their rehabilitation.

They are chosen based on interest or prior experience working in the food and beverage sector. Other programmes include tailoring workshops and working in call centres.

Located in the prison complex, the catering kitchen serves as an industry-standard training ground for offenders.

It is managed by YR Industries, a subsidiary of the Yellow Ribbon Singapore. While the public can usually order catering services from the kitchen, it currently serves only prison staff in the light of Covid-19 safety measures.

Another offender, who wanted to be known only as Michael, said he refined his skills in The Changi Tearoom kitchen.

He is serving a 5½

Continue Reading