MIDVALE, Utah — Last winter, at an apartment complex in Midvale, a carport collapsed and damaged several vehicles parked underneath, including a motorcycle belonging to Avery and Sam Shrader. The Shraders say the apartment complex told them it was an “act of nature” and that they alone had to pay to fix their bike. The owner said heavy snow had brought down the structure, but with evidence that the support beams were rusted at their bases, should the apartment complex be taken down?
The Shraders’ motorcycle was crushed in December 2021, along with several other cars, when the carport collapsed. The footage they captured shows that the carport had maintenance issues.
“You can see everyone is completely rusty,” Avery Shrader said.
She said that at first the apartment managers were ready to take responsibility.
“Damages would be paid,” she said. “They said they would take care of us.”
But as winter turned into spring, the message changed.
“They told us they weren’t going to pay for the damages and it was an ‘act of God,'” Shrader said.
Yeah, even though it hadn’t snowed in a week, there was still snow on the roof, which the apartment managers blamed for the collapse. The Shraders don’t buy it.
“It was due to negligence,” they repeated.
But when their protests got them nowhere, the couple decided it was time to call KSL investigators.
We contacted the nonprofit Utah Legal Services, who told us that under Utah law, a homeowner could be liable for damages caused by a collapsed carport. But again, they might not. In the event of negligence, such as allowing the posts to deteriorate, the apartment could be held liable.
But when there is a so-called ‘act of God’ – like too much snow on the roof leading to collapse – then the owner may not be held responsible. Everything is pretty much handled on a case-by-case basis in court.
KSL investigators contacted the managers of the Royal Ridge apartments on behalf of the Shraders and pointed out in the footage that there appeared to be a lot of rust on the posts of the fallen carport. They wouldn’t talk to us except to say they were “working directly with the residents to resolve this matter” and to contact their attorney – State Sen. Kirk Cullimore – if we had any further questions.
We had other questions, how was the problem solved?
Cullimore says we don’t know, and in fact, even Avery and Sam Shrader have been gagged from telling us about it in the future.
“The Shraders have entered into a confidential settlement agreement with Royal Ridge,” the attorney wrote, adding, “At this point, the matter with the Shraders is resolved.”
So it looks like it worked out for the Shraders after our call. No word on their neighbors about their damaged vehicles.
This story is also a good reminder that the more expensive full auto insurance policy can sometimes pay off. If you only have liability insurance and something like a fallen tree branch or a fallen carport damages your car, you might be on your own.