Family of man who died while working at the vacant Northridge Mall is crushed over razing lawsuit
"I can't even find the words, there's so much devastation going on with that building," said Rosangela Diaz, sister of Victor Diaz.
Property owners of the vacant Northridge Mall have filed a lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee, asking the city to throw out their raze order. The property is often broken into and vandalized.
In July, Victor Diaz died after being electrocuted. We Energies confirmed the electrical box he touched was vandalized and should have been locked.
The building closed 16 years ago and was sold to the China-based ‘Black Spruce Enterprise Group.’ The company said they would turn things around, but people in the community haven't seen any major improvements.
In July, a Milwaukee appeals commission agreed with the city's decision to raze the Northridge Mall property. Just four days later Victor Diaz, who was doing maintenance work for the mall died after touching a high voltage electrical box.
Victor Diaz’s family is still grieving today.
"You know us as adults our pain it'll eventually fade away,” said Rosangela Diaz. “But with the absence now, the kids are the ones feeling the pain.”
In the lawsuit, Black Spruce claims the commission refused to hear their side of the story, and the city's raze order is unconstitutional.
Rosangela Diaz says she can't believe Black Spruce is fighting the raze order after her brother's death.
"The fact that the company's going after the city for that, it's kind of just a slap on my face. A slap on our face,” adds Rosangela Diaz. “It’s like whatever just happened didn't exist.”
Victor Diaz leaves behind a wife and six sons. The family says they're struggling financially, emotionally and even physically. Victor’s brother-in-law, Alex, was with him when he died, and was hurt trying to save him.
"He's had three skin grafts already for his hands that were burned pretty bad," said Rosangela Diaz.
City leaders call the property an eyesore and a hazard. They say the work required to repair the building far exceeds its value.
"It's been a nuisance in the city for way too long and the building should've been taken care of a long time ago," adds Rosangela Diaz.
The City Of Milwaukee has 45 days from August 23 to respond to Black Spruce's lawsuit. Court papers say the estimated cost to raze the building would be anywhere from $10 to $12 million dollars.