Appellate court upholds ruling holding owners responsible for unsafe buildings

The state Court of Appeal this week upheld a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court ruling that says building owners are responsible for reinforcing an unsafe building before a city deadline, if they know it's dangerous.

The appellate court ruled against Mary Mastagni of Paso Robles, who had appealed the judgment against her over the collapse of the Acorn Building during the San Simeon Earthquake. In the appeal, the defendants said they did not have to retrofit the building until 2018, which was the city's deadline to retrofit unsafe buildings.

The court's ruling impacts building owners statewide.

Two women died trying to escape the then-unreinforced Acorn Building in downtown Paso Robles when the quake struck the morning of Dec. 22, 2003. A rebuilt version of the Acorn Building today stands at 12th and Park streets downtown.

In 2008, a jury awarded the dead women's families $2 million from building owner Mary Mastagni.

In finding for the plaintiffs, the jury decided Mastagni and several trusts and businesses owned by her family were responsible for the 111-year-old Acorn Building and negligent in its maintenance and operation.

-Staff report