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Developer Sued By City For $20 Million Over Epic Da Vinci Fire

The morning after the fire (Photo by Eugene Lee/LAist)
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The City of Los Angeles is suing developer Geoffrey Palmer for $20 million, alleging that his company didn't take enough precautions to ensure someone couldn't just stroll up to the half-built Da Vinci apartment complex, light it on fire and cause a whole mess of damage. City Attorney Mike Feuer announced on Thursday that his office is filing a negligence lawsuit against Geoffrey Palmer and his company, GH Palmer Associates. The suit alleges that preventive steps could have been taken to lessen the amount of damage to city property that occurred when the unfinished Da Vinci Apartments was allegedly set on fire.

According to the suit, GH Palmer Associates did not have an appropriate fire protection plan, did not compartmentalize construction, did not properly install fire walls or doors, did not have enough water on hand to fight a fire if one should occur, and failed to install security measures that would have prevented unauthorized individuals from entering the area.

"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 statement. The lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages.

The massive fire occurred on December 8, 2014. The apartment complex was just in the framing stages at the time, resulting in a massive blaze that also damaged nearby buildings and interfered with traffic due to the complex's proximity to the 110 freeway. Fire investigators ultimately determined the cause of the fire to be arson. Dawud Abdulwali, 56, was arrested several months later on suspicion of arson. He has pleaded not guilty and will next appear in court in March, according to City News Service.