Since the building collapse at 22nd and Market, the building trades union, represented by Pat Gillespie, have been saying that if union labor had been on the job there, rather than non-union, the collapse would not have occurred. While this is obviously a terrific PR opportunity for the unions, Philly Mag’s Simon van Zuylen-Wood says the question is, in fact, moot due to the size of the job.
Tag: building collapse
The Hunting Park Hoagie City. Photo: Liz Spikol
One of the most iconic things about the Hoagie City building that collapsed last week–perhaps the only iconic thing about it–was its sign, the one that crashed down in a most dangerous fashion in the demolition video posted here. Something about the lettering and the illustrations struck us as familiar, and that’s because Hoagie City used to be a chain. (It was originally owned by Joe Carangi, father of Gia, the subject of Steve Fried’s Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia.)
Attorney Steven Wigrizer and Richard Basciano will probably be crossing paths–again.
Basciano is the owner of the building that collapsed and killed six people in the Salvation Army store at 22nd and Market. In 2000, Wigrizer won a $5.25 million settlement on behalf of Judge Berel Caeser’s family. Caeser was killed in 1997 when he was struck by a sign that fell off a building on Broad Street near Pine. The building was owned by the estate of Philadelphia’s most notorious slumlord, Sam Rappaport. Basciano was the executor of Rappaport’s estate.
Before the case was settled, the two men met face to face when Wigrizer deposed Basciano. Wigrizer recalled Basciano as being “personable, forthcoming, and calm.”
Before he killed himself, L&I inspector Ronald Wagenhoffer made a video for his family on his camera phone, saying, of the building collapse, “It was my fault. I should have looked at those guys working, and I didn’t.”
One of the reasons Sean Benschop was arrested and charged was because he was allegedly operating a vehicle while impaired–there was marijuana detected in his blood stream, as well as unidentified painkillers. Thus far, most people, whether anecdotally or in the media, have focused on the question of marijuana rather than painkillers, although there’s a pretty good case to be made that the latter would impair functioning much more than the former.
Twenty years ago, the US Dept. of Transportation released a report saying that pot actually made drivers more cautious. That was a long time ago, but if the methodology is still considered sound, it’s an important factor. There are no prescription pain meds that don’t come with the warning about drowsiness and operating a motor vehicle. Seems we should be asking more questions about those.
Fifty-two-year-old Ronald Wagenhoffer, who worked for the Department of Licenses and Inspections for 16 years, was found dead last night in his car in Roxborough. The cause of death is being labeled a suicide, though only the medical examiner can make the final determination. Looks pretty definite, though, given a text he sent his wife.
A 2009 Google Streetview of the vacant lot where the construction site now is.
A dividing wall at 606 S. Eighth collapsed this morning, leaving eight people displaced though none injured or dead, which marks a significant improvement over last week. The heavy rain–not laced with marijuana, to our knowledge–seems to be to blame.
Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin, who lives nearby, wrote that neighbors were nervous something like this might happen:
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams is giving a press conference announcing that a grand jury will be convened to “investigate any and all aspects that they determine appropriate as they gather information….They may in fact issue a report.”
He also says:
“Philadelphians have no shortage of opinions on the people who should be held responsible. The role of the grand jury…is to determine if anyone in addition to Mr. Benschop should be held responsible. I know philadelphians demand action. I’ve heard voices loud and clear. Philadelphians demand action. But our office will not be a part of a rush to judgment. I ask for patience…in accordance with the law.”
Image of Victorian courtroom via antiquemapsandprints.com
The lawyers are gathering–that much we know. But who is legally responsible for what happened? Or, perhaps better said, who will be targeted as legally responsible in various legal actions? As one local developer said, “Follow the money”–because much of what happens from here on out will be motivated by dollars and cents.
We spoke to Peg Underwood and Henry Donner of Jacoby Donner, a Philadelphia law firm that specializes in construction litigation. We also spoke with a local developer who preferred to remain anonymous. All three shared insights gleaned from past experience, which we put into a Q&A.
Will Griffin T. Campbell, owner of the construction company that performed the demolition, have to pay out?
A licensed contractor in Philadelphia is required to have an insurance policy for which he makes regular payments. He may also elect to have excess policy as well, which is added financial protection. Any successful lawsuit against Campbell would take the limit of the insurance. Beyond that, he’d be liable out of pocket and so would probably declare personal bankruptcy (something he’s done before).