REDWOOD CITY -- The failures of the companies that operated, built and maintained a limousine that burned on the San Mateo Bridge are to blame for the fire that killed five women earlier this year, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Six lawsuits from survivors and families of victims fault operator Limo Stop, Inc., Ford Motor Company, DaBryan Coach Builders and Bay Area Limousine Repair for the May 4 fire that killed five women. Four others managed to escape the burning car through a small window between the passenger and driver's compartments.

The California Highway Patrol ruled the fire started because the rear suspension of the 1999 Lincoln Town Car stretch limo failed. The failure allowed the car's drive shaft and metal frame to rub together and create enough friction to ignite the flames.

The suits filed by attorney Adam Shea in San Mateo County Superior Court did not single out a specific problem, but rather alleged the companies were generally negligent.

Among the plaintiffs were survivors Nelia Arellano, Jasmin De Guia, Mary Guardiano and Amalia Loyola as well as families of victims Anna Alcantara, Michelle Estrera, according to the suits. They have demanded a jury trial.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.



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