Courting Justice: The Philadelphia Building Collapse

June 18, 2013

By Robert N. Hunn

I’ve touched on this topic in a post or two on our firm’s Facebook page. Our office is 28 floors above, and one block away, from the site where the building collapsed in Philadelphia. I heard the crash of bricks but didn’t know what it was. Hearing the sirens from the firehouse that sits between our building and the site of the collapse made me put two and two together—perhaps something happened close by.

At first it was surreal. Looking out the window and seeing all of the damage. Trying to figure out what fell on what. I quickly realized that the old adult book store that they had been tearing down had collapsed on the Salvation Army thrift store that sits on the corner. A busy Salvation Army thrift store.

We saw people charging to the site helping others away from the debris. We saw the fire engines arrive. And we saw firemen digging with their hands through the debris obviously attempting to free people who were trapped.

The first responders cannot be given enough credit for their conduct. Their courage in the face of tragedy was inspiring. Sadly, some people died and some were badly injured.

What followed after all that is also sad. It’s all the excuses and blame shifting that we hear from those who should be taking responsibility for the collapse. We hear the back hoe operator say he did nothing wrong. We hear the demolition contractor say he hired professional workers who were tearing down the building in a proper manner. We hear the owner of the property claim that he engaged a respectable demolition contractor. Also sad, we hear that the city inspector on the property took his own life.

While those in a position to know what went wrong run for cover, who will fight to see that the truth comes out and that the tortfeasors are held accountable for the harm and damage they caused? Well, believe it or not, it will be the trial lawyers who represent the victims of this tragedy. I guess the naysayers could argue that the lawyers have a financial interest in this terrible accident and seek to profit off of someone else’s harm. To that I would say that the plaintiff trial lawyer has a great job. They get to earn a living by helping victims of tragedy through a difficult time and see to it that the victim is fairly compensated so that some quality of life can be restored.

There are worse ways to earn a living.