A Philadelphia woman who was seriously dismembered in a 2013 building collapse was awarded nearly $96 million of a $227 million settlement with the Salvation Army and a New York real estate investor.
Mariya Plekan, a Ukranian immigrant, barely survived the disaster caused by the reckless demolition of a Center City building. Her award, allocated in binding arbitration last month, is the largest recovery for an injured person in Pennsylvania history.
The Salvation Army’s thrift store was crushed as a result poor demolition work performed by workers hired by now-deceased developer Richard Basciano and his company STB Investments Corp. Plaintiffs argued that the charitable organization ignored warnings the Hoagie City building under demolition next door was at risk of imminent collapse.
Ms. Plekan, who was 52 at the time, was buried under rubble for about 13 hours. Surgeons had to amputate the lower half of her body. She has also undergone 30 surgeries, battled kidney failure and lung problems, lost her ability to speak, and is confined to an electric wheelchair.
Her lawyer told Law 360 that she requires around-the-clock nursing care and estimated her future medical expenses will reach $50 million.
Seven people were killed and 12 others, including Ms. Plekan, were injured in the June 5, 2013 collapse. At least nine of the other victims will each receive an award of more than $1 million, with their combined total topping $60 million.
A 17-week trial concluded with a jury finding the Salvation Army was 75 percent liable for the collapse and Mr. Basciano’s company 18 percent liable. Mr. Basciano died in May at the age of 91.
“We take comfort that Ms. Plekan finally can obtain the appropriate skilled medical care she needs for the rest of her life, and that she has received just compensation for the gruesome injuries she sustained from this devastating tragedy,” Ms. Plekan’s lawyer told Law 360.
“It’s very hard, regarding any case where someone has been killed or devastatingly injured, to be content with any award.”