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Woman injured in Philadelphia building collapse files lawsuit

6/7/2013 | Construction Blog, Real Estate Blog

The news of a building collapse in Center City made headlines well beyond Philadelphia. Investigators are still looking into what exactly caused the demolition of a four-story building on Market Street to go so wrong. The building fell on the Salvation Army Thrift Shop, taking that structure down as well. In the end, six people were dead and another 13 injured. 

One of the injured, a 54-year-old woman who worked at the store, has filed the first lawsuit in the matter. She claims the owner and the construction company involved with the demolition were “grossly reckless, if not criminally negligent.” Her attorney has asked for immediate access to the site to launch his own investigation and, he said, to preserve evidence.

The attorney says that the contractor did not obtain an engineering site survey before beginning demolition as required by law. He questions, too, whether the contractor was in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations that require walls more than one story high to be laterally braced during demolition.

While the owner of the building is not from Philadelphia, he has a reputation in the community based on his past ownership of X-rated movie theaters. NBC Philadelphia has reported that both the contractor and the crane operator at the site have criminal records. News outlets are also asking city officials about site inspections and whether the city could share some of the repsonsibility for the collapse.

The lawsuit is likely the first of many yet to come. The litigation will probably not be typical of construction disputes because of the nature of the accident and the histories of the people involved. It could take years to resolve this and any other claims.

Source: NBC Philadelphia, “1st Philly Building Collapse Lawsuit Filed,” Karen Araiza and Ed Dress, June 7, 2013