They came to watch the Heat game and some fresh oysters. But instead, according to Huffington Post ("Shuckers Deck Collapses Into Biscayne Bay During Heat Game, Dozens Injured"), diners on the outdoor patio at the Miami shorefront restaurant Shuckers got something altogether unexpected: Without warning, the deck collapsed underneath them, sending dozens into the water — and some to the hospital.
The night-time emergency made waves in Miami. A hundred people were on the deck when it failed, the Miami Fire Department tweeted; 24 were transported for treatment, 2 with serious injuries.
But in the days after the failure, little could be learned about how and why it occurred. The restaurant had been inspected recently by an engineer, the Miami Herald reported ("Shuckers bar inspected 6 months before deck collapse," by Charles Rabin, David Smiley, Curtis Mornag and Michael Vasquez). But the consulting engineer who did the inspection said the deck was not included in his report.
"Beginning in late 2009, the restaurant's owners spent thousands of dollars to acquire permits for a massive renovation project that would essentially rebuild the 120-by-30-foot wooden deck, which juts out into Biscayne Bay," reported the Herald. "Then, for reasons that remain unclear, that project seems to have been abandoned. North Bay Village has no record of a final inspection. Why did the owners want to rebuild the deck? Was any of the planned work ever done? Those questions remained unanswered Friday."
Raul Rodriguez, Chief Building Official for North Bay Village, the municipality with jurisdiction over the restaurant, told reporters that he "took for granted" that the deck had been inspected as part of engineer Steven Jawitz' inspection of the restaurant, the Herald reports ("Building chief says North Bay Village 'took for granted,' deck had been inspected," by Charles Rabin and Curtis Morgan). But "Rodriguez also said Monday that after closely studying a required 40-year inspection for the restaurant and bar, he did not find any mention of an inspection of the deck," the paper reports.
Within a week, the collapse had spawned a lawsuit, the Herald reported ("First lawsuit filed against owner of Shuckers," by Charles Rabin). "The lawsuit claims Reynaldo Reyes and Flavia Guisella Ellemberger both suffered bodily injury, disfigurement, mental anguish, and aggravated previously existing conditions. It also says their injuries required hospital treatment, nursing, and loss of income," the Herald reports. Shuckers had "a duty to properly maintain its property and to warn of dangerous conditions which it had actual or constructive knowledge of… and should have taken action to remedy it," the legal complaint says.
Meanwhile, information about the structure itself has been slow to come to light. Writes the Herald: "Though no one has said exactly when the deck was built, Miami-Dade County aerial photos showed it was in place in the 1960s, a county spokesman said Wednesday."