A woman who was critically injured in the Philadelphia building collapse on June 6 has asked a judge to partially lift a stay that will likely be imposed on her lawsuit pending other legal issues in mounting litigation surrounding the disaster, which killed six people and injured 13 others.
Mariya Plekan was shopping at the Salvation Army Thrift store adjacent to the building that was being demolished when it collapsed on top of the store. She was buried under debris for 13 hours and had to have both of her legs amputated as a result of her injures.
Ms. Plekan is suing the owners of the building that was being demolished, the general contractor hired to perform the demolition, an architect overseeing the demolition, the operator of an aerial lift who may have caused the collapse, and the Salvation Army.
The plaintiff claims that she is close to death because her injuries have led to sepsis and renal failure. She has asked the judge to freeze the anticipated stay on her lawsuit after it was placed on 11 other lawsuits in the building collapse litigation. Ms. Plekan wants the judge to lift the expected stay on her case so that she can provide a videotaped deposition.
The stay on the 11 civil lawsuits stems from a motion filed by Griffin Campbell, who was contracted by Richard Basciano, the collapsed building’s owner, to perform the demolition. Mr. Campbell invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in the civil litigation because he potentially faces criminal charges related to his role in the disaster, prompting Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Bernstein to stay the lawsuits.
Ms. Plekan’s lawsuit accuses Mr. Basciano of hiring Mr. Campbell to perform the demolition based on his low bid, which was three times lower than any of the other bids for the job. She also claims that both men lied about the cost of the demolition in their permit application so that the cost of the city permit would be lower.
The lawsuit also accuses both men of hiring Sean Benschip, the aerial lift operator, who faces charges on six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of risking and causing a catastrophe.
The lawsuit also alleges that architect Plato Marinakos, who Mr. Basciano hired to inspect the building before demolition, failed to prepare the proper reports required by the federal government before the demolition job. Ms. Plekan claims that Mr. Basciano and Mr. Campbell proceeded with the demolition without the required engineering surveys knowing that the work would be dangerous in light of the Salvation Army building’s condition.
Ms. Plekan accuses the Salvation Army of keeping its thrift store open knowing that the adjacent building was at a high risk of collapsing.