A civil lawsuit filed on behalf of two victims of a deadly fire escape collapse outside an apartment building in Rittenhouse Square earlier this month alleges the balcony was “dangerous,” “defective” and “corroded.”
Laura O’Brien and the family of Albert Suh, who was killed in the incident, filed a civil lawsuit on Monday seeking damages for wrongful death and negligence in the collapse.
The fourth-floor fire escape landing broke off from the brick façade of the John C. Bell Apartment Building at 229 S. 22nd Street just after midnight on Jan. 12. Suh, a 22-year-old financial analyst, O’Brien, a 24-year-old kindergarten teacher, and a third woman, who is not part of the suit, were standing on the fire escape collapsed.
Suh was rushed to a nearby hospital and later died. O’Brien suffered a number of serious injuries including a broken back. She underwent a number of surgeries and had metal rods placed into her back, the suit says.
The lawsuit alleges the building’s owner The Khorram Group failed to properly inspect the fire escape which “became badly corroded and weakened substantially” over time. The suit also claims there was no signs warning that the escape was in poor condition and that building tenants were not notified about the conditions.
The fire escape had not been inspected in more than 50 years and was not required to be checked by city officials past an initial inspection, according to the Department of Licenses & Inspections. A post-accident inspection of the fire tower found it to be imminently dangerous.
The suit is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.
The Khoramm Group was not immediately reachable for comment.
This is a photo of part of the fire escape landing that collapsed. It was included in the court filing: