In October 2019, the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans suffered a collapse during construction that killed three workers on the site and injured many more. The upper floors of the 18-story building collapsed, trapping the bodies of three workers. One body was recovered immediately while it took 10 months to recover the other two bodies. A year later, as clean up still ensues, the owner of the building has filed a lawsuit against construction contractors, subcontractors and insurance companies.
According to an article from nola.com, the ownership group, 1031 Canal Development, "blames the building's failure on Citadel, All-Star, Heaslip Engineering, architect Harry Baker Smith and 15 other subcontractors." The ownership group also sued the insurance providers of each contractor and subcontractor. The article further says that the ownership group'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."
The suit also takes issue with the steel erector, indicating the metal decking the steel beams were not constructed according to structural plans. “The decking system designed, manufactured and installed by Hub Steel was improperly erected and installed and/or was inadequately designed for the building,” according to the nola.com article.
Because of this, the lawsuit alleges the decking system placed too much weight on the 16th floor, contributing to the collapse.
This isn't the only lawsuit plaguing the Hard Rock Hotel project. The city of New Orleans has sued 1031 Canal and its partners and subcontractors in order to recover costs associated with the collapse and cleanup of the site.
In April 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued several citations related to the hotel collapse. Citations were issued to:
- Heaslip Engineering LLC
- Citadel Builders LLC
- Suncoast Projects LLC
- HUTCO Inc.
- King Company LLC
- Regional Mechanical Services LLC
- Rush Masonary Inc
- REYCO Inc.
- SS Construction and Consulting LLC
- Southern Services and Equipment Inc
- F Mata Masonry LLC
According to the OSHA investigation, Heaslip Engineering failed to adequately design, review or approve steel bolt connections affecting the structural integrity of the building. OSHA issued one willful violation for this failure.
OSHA cited Citadel Builders, the general contractor, for three serious violations for inadequate egress from the structure. Additionally, it cited Suncoast Projects, the steel erector, for failing to maintain structure stability.
Other subcontractors onsite received serious violations related to:
- Emergency engress training
- Inadequate egress
- Fall hazard training
- Safety hazards
In total, OSHA issued $315,536 in penalties.
The 1031 Canal company is in the process of demolishing the entire building. Due to an active hurricane season, demolition will likely not be completed until early 2021.