SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Just two hours after Rogue Water Tap House's deck fell 12 feet injuring 14 people on St. Patrick's Day, the bar opened back up for St. Patrick's Day sales with permission from fire investigators.
"Having the lawful right to reopen and reopening before you've even gone to the hospital to check on the people you've hurt, there's a big difference there," said Jeremy McKenzie, Savannah attorney with Karsman, McKenzie, and Hart.
A Savannah Police Department report explains that police officers rushed to remove people from the building and treated injured parties outside as EMS arrived.
McKenzie tells WTOC six lawsuits have been filed against Rogue Water Tap House after the deck collapse injured fourteen people.
"It shows you that they were more motivated by the getting of money than they were or concerned about the safety they were actually taking that money from," McKenzie said. "I think it speaks volumes to what they really cared about, and I think it's going to be a determining factor in this case."
Along with insensitivity by the bar, McKenzie says the deck was easily a hazard. According to the lawsuit, the bar failed to maintain or repair the deck or otherwise warn its customers of its dangerous condition.
"Our preliminary investigation, we were out there before the deck was disposed of shows us that anyone who cared to look or would have looked would have seen that this deck was not properly fastened to the walls that were supporting it," McKenzie said.
He also says under Georgia law, businesses are responsible for the safety of every customer.
"When you have a deck like this where you know there is going to be numerous people that you invite on the deck and you also put table and chairs and benches under the deck, you are going to have to do inspections," McKenzie explained. "When you have that kind of weight suspended above people, you have to do what's right. You have to do those inspections at least often enough to make sure this doesn't happen."
The bar remains open, but they have not responded to WTOC for comment.
See below for a copy of the lawsuit:
See below for a copy of the police report: