The Tainan District Court on Thursday ordered six defendants to pay NT$450 million (US$15.25 million) to 128 victims and family members after 115 residents of their shoddily constructed building died in a magnitude 6.4 earthquake on Feb. 6, 2016.
The lawsuit was brought by 128 victims and relatives of those who died when the Weiguan Jinlong housing complex collapsed, seeking compensation of nearly NT$5 billion.
The six are Lin Ming-hui (林明輝), owner of the now-defunct Weiguan Corp, which built the housing complex in 1993; Hung Han-hsien (洪汗仙), chief of the construction company’s design department; Cheng Tung-hsu (鄭東旭), contracted structural engineer for the building; Cheng Chin-kui (鄭進貴) and Chang Kui-pao (張魁寶), the building’s architects; and Hu Chia-chen (胡家禎), head of Daho construction consulting firm.
Photo: Wang Chun-chung, Taipei Times
The six were deemed liable for the housing complex’s poor design and shoddy construction using inferior materials to cut costs, which contributed to the collapse of the building when the earthquake struck, resulting in death and injury, the ruling said.
To cut costs, Lin ordered Hung to minimize design work in the planning stage, cut back on the reinforcement of beam-column joints and reduce the size of some pillars when building the apartment complex, which undermined the structural safety of the building, it said.
Cheng Chin-kui and Chang helped the company acquire a construction certification and other documents without properly supervising the design, it said.
In addition, Hu asked Cheng Tung-hsu to undertake part of the construction work, despite being aware that the latter was not a qualified structural engineer and there were flaws in the building structure proposal provided by his Daho consulting firm, it said.
The ruling can still be appealed.
Six civil suits have been brought against the five people responsible for designing and building the Weiguan Jinlong complex and Daho construction consulting firm, including one by the Consumers’ Foundation, seeking NT$3.5 billion in compensation.
On Jan. 16, the Tainan District Court handed down its ruling in that case, requiring the defendants to pay more than NT$700 million to compensate victims and family members of those who died in the building collapse.
The Tainan District Prosecutors’ Office also filed a suit against the five individuals and the district court on Jan. 17 ruled that they should pay NT$75.36 million and interest to victims and family members of the victims. The case is in the second trial stage.
The five individuals have each received a five-year prison sentence for negligent homicide in the final verdict on the criminal case brought against them.
Lin has been serving his sentence since September 2017, while the other four began their sentences on March 4 last year.
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