Victims' Attorneys Allowed to Inspect Demolition Site

The City of Philadelphia was ordered to preserve the site of Wednesday's fatal building collapse.

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge granted the order after lawyers for two of the victims asked for an emergency hearing to preserve evidence and have it examined by their own experts and engineers. They also asked to inspect the site and document the cleanup.

Judge Ellen Ceisler said that attorneys for both women can inspect, videotape, and photograph the demolition work, starting Saturday at 9 a.m. from a safe distance.

Nadine White, a 54-year-old Salvation Army Thrift store worker, suffered minor injuries after she was thrown to the ground and buried underneath the rubble when the four-story building next door came crashing down. Six people, including White's two co-workers, died in the collapse, twelve others were injured.

White was the first victim to file a lawsuit against the construction company and the demolition contractor. A second plaintiff, Linda Bell, joined the lawsuit Friday. Bell, a 50-year-old mother of three, was shopping when the collapse happened. She fell into the basement and was covered by rubble for more than an hour.

“She's pretty shook up, in a lot of pain,” her attorney Joseph Marrone said.

Robert Mongeluzzi and his firm are representing White. They asked a judge to do their own site inspection Thursday and requested that all evidence related to the case be preserved, including demolition plans.

The women are suing the owner of the building, Richard Basciano of New York City, and the demolition contractor, Griffin T. Campbell. White’s attorney claims the demolition was "grossly reckless, if not criminally negligent” and did not adhere to government requirements that call for an engineering site survey to be conducted before demolition starts.

Judge Ceisler also said that lawyers for the construction company and demolition contractor can inspect the site. Ceisler ruled that the remaining debris must remain at the site for two days and that the city must provide the location of any debris that has been removed from the site.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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