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Defense Summary Judgment In Philadelphia Fire Escape Collapse

March 4, 2016

Fire escape collapses resulting in serious injury or death of commercial residential buildings in Philadelphia have occurred multiple times in recent years, gaining both the attention of the media and personal injury attorneys.  Recently a fire escape collapse in the Rittenhouse area of Philadelphia resulted in the death of one and serious injury to two others, all college students attending a party in one of the rentals in the building where the collapse occurred.  This case attracted the attention of not one but two of the most prominent plaintiff’s personal injury law firms in the North East.    

Zarwin Baum Associate Noah S. Shapiro, Esquire was assigned the defense of the roofing contractor sued in connection with the fire escape collapse.  The allegations against the roofing contractor were twofold: (1) that their use of the fire escape to access the roof of the building where the collapse occurred to perform their repairs, including the transportation of materials and personnel, resulted in damage to the fire escape causing its collapse; and (2) that the roofing contractor had an obligation to notice and warn the property owner of any defects or dangerous condition of the fire escape to prevent the subsequent collapse.

Through targeted use of corporate designee depositions and requests for admissions it was demonstrated that no contract for inspection or repair of the subject fire escape had been entered into between the roofing contractor and property owner, that the roofing contractor had not undertaken to perform any inspection or repair of the fire escape, and that the property owner had no expectation that the roofing contractor would perform any such inspection or repair.  As a result the foundation was laid for a summary judgment motion on behalf of the roofing contractor, which was granted by the court.  A settlement was reached between the property owner and the plaintiffs for an undisclosed amount.


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