WILMINGTON, Del. (CN) – J.C .Penney, The Children”s Place, and Wal-Mart knew of unsafe conditions at an eight-story factory in Bangladesh, yet allowed workers to toil there until the building collapsed, a class action claims.
In a complaint filed July 21, the plaintiffs, family members of the workers killed in the April 24, 2013 disaster that left 1,100 dead and 2,500 injured, say the retailers were “aware that there was a significant and specific risk to workers … [and] were also aware that the reason subcontractors could manufacture and supply … garments at such low cost was … because the subcontractors often operated substandard and unsafe factories which put garment workers at significant risk of severe personal injury or death.”
Similar lawsuits were filed against the three companies earlier this year, as well as against other clothing manufacturers such as Canadian companies Joe Fresh and Loblaw Companies Limited.
The Rana Plaza building was declared safe the day before the disaster, despite the fact structural cracks had been seen throughout the building. The building had been evacuated prior to the inspection, but the workers were told to return the next day.
Vibrations from generators used during the production process are believed to have added to the stresses on the building, and caused it collapse hours after the first shift workers arrived.
Among the dead were children of the employees, who were in the onsite nursery at the time.
The suit claims that an engineer had warned of dangerous structural conditions prior to the collapse, and that the building”s owner failed to comply with several building codes and permit requirements.
The plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages on multiple claims of negligence and wrongful death.
They are represented by Peter Andrews of Andrews & Springer LLC of Wilmington, Del.
The retailers declined to comment, saying they do not comment on ongoing litigation.’