Rappaport Heirs to Building Collapse Victims: Get In Line
It has been nearly two months since the deadly building collapse at 22nd and Market streets. Victims and families of the deceased have been lining up in Philadelphia’s civil court to sue the demolition contractor, the equipment operator (who was later arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter) and building owner Richard Basciano.
Basciano, who has not spoken publicly since the collapse, is the defendant in nearly a dozen cases filed by building collapse victims. But the family of notorious Philadelphia slumlord Sam Rappaport, who died in 1994, wants to get the money Basciano owes them first.
Last week in Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court, Rappaport estate attorney Ronald Shaffer of Fox Rothschild LLP filed four separate certified judgments against Basciano totaling more than $8.9 million.
The judgments have been transferred from Bucks County Court, where court records show that the Rappaport family successfully sued Basciano, who had been executor of Rappaport’s $58 million estate, for mishandling the family’s funds.
According to an opinion filed in Bucks County Court, the judge there referred to Basciano’s dealings with the estate as a “flagrant abuse” of his power and said that Basciano had participated in “a multitude of self-dealing transactions.”
(It should be noted that one of the Bucks County matters is under appeal with a decision expected shortly and that attorney Richard Sprague recently sent Philadelphia magazine a letter stating that Basciano did not fail in his role as executor of the Rappaport estate.)
According to an attorney I spoke with familiar with the Bucks County case, last week’s court filings in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court are intended to put local judges on notice of the judgments in Bucks County. “It’s fairly routine to transfer those judgments in a case like this,” says the attorney. “Essentially, it’s saying, ‘Hey, we were here first.'”