SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Attorney's Office filed a civil enforcement action Friday against both a property owner and the organizer of a New Year's Eve warehouse party in Miramar where a makeshift stage collapsed, injuring several people.
The lawsuit alleges property owner Bradley S. Murray and party organizer Charles Clayborne Smith, Jr. maintained a public nuisance, engaged in unfair competition, and committed several violations of the San Diego Municipal Code.
The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties and a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction preventing the men from maintaining a property in violation of state and local laws.
The action stems from a New Year's Eve party that occurred at 7574 Trade St. and allegedly drew hundreds of revelers. The "New Year's Rave 2021" charged admission ranging from $10 to $25 per person and was set to take place until 3 a.m.
At about 10:20 p.m., a balcony collapsed beneath the weight of people dancing upon it, crashing down onto others below. Three people were hospitalized and several others were also injured, according to the City Attorney's Office, which said the mezzanine was found to be constructed using substandard materials and was not designed to hold live weight.
"These defendants jeopardized the safety of attendees by permitting dancing on a poorly constructed mezzanine, and they've exposed countless San Diegans to COVID-19 by hosting what could be a super-spreader event during the most dangerous phase of the pandemic," San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said.
"Our office took swift action to hold them accountable and let the public know that the city of San Diego will not tolerate conduct that imperils the health and safety of San Diegans."
Smith's company Sindicated Entertainment Group was named in the complaint. News 8 reached out to Smith Jr. on his company's page. In his messages he says in summary he did not host the events but rented the venue to promoters. He says closed his business for four months lost his savings, his vehicle was repossessed, got evicted from home and started again because he had no money. Smith says he plans to take full responsibility for this says he had no intentions of causing harm or injuring to anyone he just wanted to people to enjoy themselves during this dark time.
News 8 spoke to the owner of the warehouse, Bradley Murray, on the phone. He says he didn't know about the parties and didn't know about the complaint and ended the conversation with "no comment."
The complaint says that management company of the industrial park where the warehouse is sent Murray a letter in June informing him about the illegal large gathering on June 28, and request the illegal use cease.
Elliot says 800 people attended concert called "The Morgue" on June 28. Surrounding community members complained of property damage and noise.
The action also closely follows an executive order from Mayor Todd Gloria calling for bolstered enforcement of local public health orders and fines of up to $1,000 for violations. The executive order was signed one day before the New Year's Eve party.
"I issued the city's executive Order to strengthen enforcement of public health orders to discourage situations like what happened in Miramar on New Year's Eve," Gloria said.
"I commend the San Diego Police Department and City Attorney Elliott for acting quickly to hold bad actors like these accountable for doing harm and risking lives."
The City Attorney's Office alleges that since pandemic-related public health orders went into effect last March, San Diego police have received 15 calls for service at that property and spent 47 hours responding to disturbing the peace incidents.
Some of the events outlined in the lawsuit include large parties, wrestling events, a marijuana swap meet and a June concert that reportedly drew about 800 people.