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Mintzer Sarowitz Secures Dismissal in Salvation Army Building Collapse Case

Feb 1, 2017 - About the Firm by

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (February, 2017) – After more than three years of litigation and nearly five months in trial, a jury reached a verdict in the controversial Philadelphia Salvation Army building collapse case, finding all but one defendant liable. The exonerated defendant was represented by Pennsylvania civil trial lawyers Daniel J. McCarthy and William M. Brennan, of the civil litigation defense firm Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris Ledva & Meyers, LLP (MSZL&M).

On June 5, 2013, a brick wall remaining from a four-story building under demolition collapsed onto a neighboring Salvation Army thrift store, crushing the establishment. The demolition accident killed seven people and injured 12 others. All principle defendants in the case, including the Salvation Army, were found to have played a role in the disaster after committing several safety violations, except Jack Higgins, represented by attorneys McCarthy and Brennan.

Higgins, a Pennsylvania architect, was hired by the Salvation Army to assess the 2140 Market Street thrift store’s condition– a fact which the organization would later try to use when claiming demolition-related damage – and he visited the establishment one time on May 20, 2013.

While plaintiffs maintained that Higgins was aware of the safety violations surrounding the demolition project adjacent to the thrift store, and thus played a role in the accident, attorneys McCarthy and Brennan argued that their client was hired for only one day, several weeks prior to the building’s collapse. 

Given their client’s limited work assignment, the civil trial lawyers at MSZL&M successfully demonstrated that Higgins and his firm were not liable in the demolition accident. In a rare directed verdict, Higgins was granted a Non-Suit and the claims against the architect and his company were dismissed prior to the case being sent to the jury.

The case, which has been recognized as the single largest state court personal injury settlement in Pennsylvania and longest civil trial in the state’s history, culminated in a $227 million settlement on January 31, 2017.

The dismissal marks a monumental decision by a state court to direct a verdict prior to a case going to the jury. The case also holds particular significance to MSZL&M, as it was the final case for Mr. McCarthy, who retired after a successful and distinguished legal career. Mr. Brennan continues to practice law in the firm’s Philadelphia office, focusing on cases involving product liability, construction site liability, premises liability and federal civil rights litigation.

About Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris Ledva & Meyers, LLP

The civil litigation defense attorneys at MSZL&M represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia and Florida. With a thorough understanding of insurance industry matters and an aggressive approach, MSZL&M handles a wide range of civil litigation matters, including multi-district, complex and class action litigation, appellate advocacy, civil trials, administrative proceedings and alternative dispute resolution proceedings.

Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris Ledva & Meyers, LLP

William M. Brennan, Esq.

1500 Market Street
Suite 4100
Philadelphia PA 19102

Tel: (215) 735-7200

Direct Dial: (267) 886-1868