Court awards NT$710 million to victims of 2016 Tainan building collapse

CNA file photo
CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Tainan District Court on Thursday ruled that five individuals and a construction consulting company must pay NT$710 million (US$23.4 million) to 170 residents and surviving family members relating to the Weiguan Jinlong building (維冠金龍大樓) collapse following a magnitude 6.4 earthquake on Feb. 6, 2016 that resulted in 115 fatalities.

The five defendants are Lin Ming-hui (林明輝), former chairman of the now-defunct Weiguan company; company architects Chang Kui-pao (張魁寶) and Cheng Chin-kui (鄭進貴); company designer Hung Hsien-han (洪仙汗) and structural engineer Cheng Tung-hsu (鄭東旭) from Da Ho Infrastructure Construction.

The individuals were deemed liable because the building they designed was poorly designed and built with inferior materials to cut costs, which ultimately led the building to collapse in the quake, according to the ruling.

The building’s designs were largely the responsibility of Lin and Hung. Chang and Cheng Chin-kui were tasked with overseeing the building’s construction; while Cheng Tung-hsu was responsible for designing the building structure, the ruling said.

The ruling can still be appealed.

The five defendants are currently serving five-year prison terms after being found guilty of professional negligence resulting in multiple deaths by Taiwan High court in July 2017.

Lin began his five-year-jail time in September 2017 while the other four were incarcerated in March 2019 after the Supreme Court rejected their appeals.

The 170 residents of the apartment complex and surviving family members originally sought NT$3.5 billion in compensation.

Thursday’s ruling is one of five civil suits the five defendants and Da Ho Infrastructure Construction are facing over the building’s collapse.

The collapse of the 16-story residential building in Tainan’s Yongkang District resulted in 115 fatalities and injured 104.

Meanwhile, the original site of the collapsed building is the site of a new apartment complex project which is expected to be completed in April 2021.