Lawsuit Filed in Terrace Case
Jul. 06, 2000
PORT CLINTON, Ohio (AP) _ A class-action lawsuit was filed Wednesday against the owner of a Lake Erie island winery where a terrace collapse Saturday killed one person and injured at least 75 others who fell 20 feet into a wine cellar.
Five of the people injured in the collapse filed suit against the Lonz Winery seeking at least $25,000 for each plaintiff. The lawsuit claims the terrace floor had started to crack before it caved in.
Calls to the winery's owners, Paramount Distilleries Inc. of Cleveland, were not returned Wednesday.
The winery was closed after the collapse, and a county building inspector examined the entire building Wednesday to determine whether it should be reopened.
Inspectors found that an unstable wall that supports the remaining two-thirds of the 40-foot-long terrace could collapse at any time, Ottawa County Sheriff Craig Emahiser said Wednesday. It wasn't known whether the wall was weakened by the collapse or was unstable before the accident.
About 100 people were on the terrace when it fell. Engineers who conducted an initial investigation said the terrace was not overloaded and the likely cause was a structural problem.
The terrace was built in the 1950s, according to tax records. The winery's century-old, fortress-like main building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.