What's being called the biggest payout in Pennsylvania history has been awarded to a Ukrainian immigrant who was seriously injured in the deadly 2013 Center City building collapse. An arbitrator awarded the woman a whopping $95.6 million for her injuries.
The 2013 building collapse killed six people and left plaintiff Mariya Plekan and 12 others injured when a large unsupported wall from a demolition project fell on a Salvation Army store. One of the injured survivors died a week after the collapse. In the case, the jury had found the Salvation Army as well the building owner and successful real estate mogul liable for these innocent bystander's injuries.
According to the suit, Plekan, who was 52-years-old at the time, had been a regular customer at the Salvation Army before the store was demolished. She had been trapped underneath the rubble for a total of 13 hours before the authorities found her. Thankfully, she was rescued alive, but she had sustained debilitating injuries that would drastically affect her life for the rest of her days. Her suit claimed that her injuries were so severely inflicted that she had to undergo a “guillotine amputation” at her local hospital. The procedure consisted of medical staff removing the bottom half of her lower body at the hips. Aside from this operation, Plekan had to endure 29 other operations in order to remedy other medical issues such as kidney failure and lung problems. As a result of these excessive invasive surgeries, she lost her ability to speak and she will have to remain under medical care for the rest of her life. Her suit rounded off the accrued medical expenses over her lifetime at a price of $50 million.
Her attorney, Andrew Stern, shared that Plekan had been living in a nursing home prior to the large payout. He says he hopes that the money will get his client out of that home and into a more comfortable environment - ideally with her children overseas. For now, she is visited by her two children who fly back and forth from Ukraine to serve as translators and helpers for their mother.
“She's thrilled about this,” said Stern. “It's going to help her get out of her current location and into a place where everybody… can be.” We're just so happy for her in this regard. It has been a long road.”
It has been a very long road indeed, considering that the trial lasted for a duration of 17 weeks. Plekan's payout was the largest of all of the victims listed in the suit, being awarded nearly half of the $227 million that is intended to be distributed to each victim and their families.