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Mon 1 Jun 2015 01:49 PM

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Families of Villaggio fire victims said to file civil lawsuits

Parents of 13 children who perished in 2012 Doha mall blaze file lawsuits at Qatar and Los Angeles courts

Families of Villaggio fire victims said to file civil lawsuits
The fire at Villaggio Mall in 2012. (Credit: Twitter).

The parents of 13 children and one nursery teacher who died in the 2012 Villaggio fire in Doha have reportedly filed lawsuits against the mall’s architects, developers, consultants and management firm, as well as other companies based in the US and Qatar.

The civil suits were filed on Thursday, exactly three years after the blaze, with Qatar’s court of first instance and with the Los Angeles Superior Court in California, Doha News reported.

A total of 19 people died of smoke asphyxiation during the fire, including children who were trapped in daycare Gympanzee, four nursery staff and two firefighters.

According to Doha News, the US lawsuit argues that the companies being sued “engaged in willful, wanton and reckless disregard” for the lives and safety of those who died in the fire.

It alleges wrongful death, negligence, survival action for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress on behalf of some of the families of the victims who died.

The documents call on the firms to pay for general and punitive damages and also seeks compensation for funeral and burial expenses, medical and legal costs and lost earnings for the past, present and future.

According to the report, the California lawsuit names three defendants - F+A Architects, a Pasadena-based company that designed Villaggio; Business Trading Company (BTC), a Qatar firm that developed and managed the mall operations; and White Young Qatar, described as the project manager and contributing architect and engineer for the mall.

The action claims that “the fire and the resulting deaths were, by all accounts, preventable”.

The civil lawsuits come at a time when criminal court proceedings are expected to come to a close later this year.

Following a trial in 2013, five of seven defendants –  including two mall officials, a government employee and the owners of the Gympanzee daycare – were found guilty of manslaughter and face five to six years in jail.

They remain out of prison pending an appeal hearing,which has taken nearly two years and is due to close this month, Doha News added.