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Owner urged speed before dangerous property collapse

Georgia commercial property owners may have heard that the man who owned most of the Philadelphia building that collapsed on June 5 and killed six people during demolition had been pushing for the contractors tearing it down to go faster. This may have contributed to the negligence that was allegedly the cause of a four-story masonry wall crashing down onto a thrift store below. Newly released emails show that the head of New York City-based STB said that he was shocked to see the building still standing at the 2100 block of Market Street at the end of May.

News reports said that the new information revealed one of the reasons why the demolition plan moved forward even amidst concerns about the Salvation Army store below. Facts uncovered through the emails included that the company owner had visited the demolition site to check up on progress several times. During one of those visits, he reportedly saw no one working at the site and alerted workers that be would be visiting again very soon.

The later visit apparently uncovered more progress in tearing the buildings down, and the owner was reported to be pleased. A property manager working for the owner was recorded in the emails as complaining that the Salvation Army store operators were people with a half-baked charity and said that he had to look after the interests of the owners of the property that was being demolished.

When injuries or death are caused by known hazards at a dangerous property, the injured individuals and the families of the deceased victims could choose to pursue court action over premises liability. In addition to medical expenses, the evidence that shows that the contractor and the company was aware of the danger may allow for punitive damages to be sought.

Source: Philly, "Owners pressed for faster demolition before fatal collapse", Bob Warner, December 17, 2013

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