Philadelphia Building Collapse Tragedy: Lessons Learned

December 22nd, 2016

By Dean I Weitzman, Esq.


As a decrepit building next door was being demolished as part of a renovation project, a Salvation Army thrift store on Market Street in Center City Philadelphia collapsed, trapping dozens of innocent victims under bricks, girders, wood and other heavy building materials.

That disaster on June 5, 2013 has changed the lives of dozens of families.

Six people inside the Salvation Army thrift store were killed by the falling materials, according to a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Fourteen other people were seriously injured. Some victims were just shopping on a beautiful June day. Others were just working at their jobs inside the store.

At least six lawsuits have already been filed by victims in the wake of the tragedy.

What could be most disturbing so far are reports that the operator of the heavy equipment used to conduct the demolition had marijuana in his system when the incident occurred. The excavator operator has since been charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deaths inside the thrift shop, according to a story in The Philadelphia Daily News.

There are certainly more details that are coming to light.

An analysis of the tragedy by reporter Joseph DiStefano in The Philadelphia Inquirer on June 12 detailed how the incident “points to deeper city shortcomings,” including inadequate site inspections, inadequate permits and paperwork for such activities and other potential problems.

“In the Market Street collapse, there are plenty of people who will be pointing out, in the weeks and months ahead, that they warned City Hall something like this would happen,” DiStefano wrote. “The Wild West off-campus construction rush near Temple University, the expediter system that can speed job permits to raw would-be contractors, the financial contributions to political campaigns that can give City Council members an incentive to tolerate dangerous conditions – maybe some of these loose straps will get tightened a bit” in the aftermath of the tragedy.

But in the meantime, he wrote, “Here’s the lessons for ordinary citizens: If you see a wall you have reason to believe may be threatening to fall on civilians – sure, call City Hall – but don’t stop there. Go to the people most closely concerned. Try telling the store manager: “There’s knuckleheads at work next door. . . . You’d better shut down and get everyone out.”

Actually, that’s great advice.

It’s the same kind of thing that attorneys do on behalf of their clients – asking questions, raising hackles, taking action, seeking remedies, going after the truth and forcing results.

The building collapse is now being investigated by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) as well as by the city and city District Attorney Seth Williams. City Council is planning to hold a series of hearings on the disaster this summer.

Adding to the tragedy, a city building inspector who had inspected the work site where the demolition was being done was found dead June 12 in an apparent suicide, according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The man’s death also adds an air of new mystery to the whole incident.

The six people who lost their lives that day, and the 14 others who were injured, did nothing to deserve such a horrible fate. They simply went to work or went shopping in a store where they had reasonable expectations of being safe and secure while they were there on the premises.

For the victims of such a disaster, and for their families, what they need now is help finding out what happened in that construction site that day, why it happened and what someone is going to do about it to help them and pay their damage claims.

That’s where a competent, qualified, tenacious and skilled legal team can help in such cases.

If you or someone you love is ever injured in a serious accident, it can be debilitating for the rest of your life, affecting your personal mobility, earning potential and your livelihood. That’s not something that you want to take lightly.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or someone you love is ever seriously injured in any kind of accident anywhere in the United States. At MyPhillyLawyer, you can consult with a qualified, experienced and compassionate attorney to explore all of your legal rights.

We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-(866) 352-4572 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.

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