After the longest civil trial in Philadelphia’s history, four months, a settlement has been reached in a case involving 19 plaintiffs and 6 defendants. The case involved a building demolition that occurred in 2012, causing seven deaths and twelve injuries. The settlement awards $227 million to the plaintiffs, the largest settlement in Pennsylvania court history, according to the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Robert J. Mongeluzzi.
The accident was caused by the demolition of a Basciano building which crushed a Salvation Army thrift store that was located next to the demolition site. The North Philadelphia demolition contractor, Griffin Campbell, and the executive operator, Sean Benschop, were both criminally convicted and are currently serving long prison sentences.
An arbitrator has been appointed to divide the settlement between the 19 plaintiffs, according to the severity and extent of their injuries, along with their past and future medical expenses.
One of the victims, Mariya Plekan, was a Ukrainian immigrant and frequent patron of the store. When the Salvation Army collapsed, she was trapped inside the rubble for 13 hours until a Philadelphia firefighter heard her calling for help during excavation of the site. Plekan had such extensive injuries that the doctors were forced to perform an extreme procedure called a “guillotine surgery” on her, in which the lower half of the body is amputated below the hips.
“It’s very, very difficult for me. I still have trouble breathing. I still need a lot of rehabilitation,” Plekan said. “There’s very little I can do for myself.” She had to undergo 30 surgeries to manage her injuries, lung, and kidney failure, and she can no longer speak due to the effects of long-term intubation.
An anonymous source told news sources that $200 million of the settlement will be paid by the Salvation Army while Richard Basciano, a real estate speculator and owner of the building will be responsible for $27 million. The Salvation Army was found to be 75% responsible for the injuries because of their failure to take precautions after Basciano’s top aide, Thomas Simmonds, warned them of the imminent danger. Attorney’s for the Salvation Army said that the warnings were not heeded because of Simmonds tendency to exaggerate.
Basciano was held responsible for part of the accident because he did not do reasonable research before he hired a contractor, Marinakos, for the demolition “who had no major experience monitoring a large commercial demolition.” Basciano then allowed Marinakos to hire Campbell, “an inexperienced and unlicensed contractor,” for the project. This lack of oversight was seen to constitute negligence in managing his building.
While hard to imagine, tragedies such as this one can occur at any time and disrupt the normalcy of everyday life. If you or a loved one has been injured in such an accident if may be appropriate to seek compensation. For a legal consultation, call Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian today at 800-529-6162 or contact them online.