The owner of a Philadelphia building that collapsed onto an adjacent Salvation Army thrift store June 6, killing six people and injuring 13 others, faces 11 personal-injury and wrongful-death lawsuits related to the disaster. However, Richard Basciano and his company STB Investments Corp., which owned the collapsed building, asked a state court judge to throw out a strict liability claim sought by the plaintiff in one of the lawsuits.
Plaintiff Shirley Ball, who was shopping in the Salvation Army store when he adjacent four-story building fell on top of it, alleges in her complaint that she received injuries to her head, knees, back, neck, elbow, and shoulder and that she may need medical treatment for these injuries in the future. She accuses Mr. Basciano and other parties of negligence, negligent hiring, and strict liability.
Although Mr. Basciano did not challenge the claims of negligence and negligent hiring, he asked the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas to toss the strict liability claim, arguing that demolition activities do not warrant the claim.
According to Law 360, Mr. Basciano argued that “No Pennsylvania court has found that mere demolition of a building is an activity that can form the basis for a strict liability count.
“In fact, it is plain that demolition can not be such a basis under well-established tort law,” Mr. Basciano said.
To back his argument, Mr. Basciano said that demolition work is a common activity and thus should not be classified as an ultrahazardous activity that warrants a strict liability claim because it is not “abnormally dangerous” as defined by state law.
Mr. Basciano argued that upholding Ms. Ball’s strict liability claim “would have a chilling effect on efforts to revitalize [Philadelphia], as well as every municipality in the commonwealth.”