Falling Debris

Falling Debris Accident

Erica Tishman, a prominent Manhattan architect, was struck by falling debris and died at the scene from her injuries. The building is located on 729 7th Ave and is owned by commercial real-estate firm Himmel + Meringoff Properties.

The company received permits for the danger zone, but never followed up with safeguarding the area to prevent falling debris. Mrs. Tishman, was a prominent New York City architect who served on the Board of Directors for the Educational Alliance. She was also a philanthropist.

Spectators reported that the falling debris that struck Mrs. TIshman was actually much larger than standard debris. Some suggested it was not debris at all. Photographs from the scene support this theory. The photographs depict large broken pieces of molding that may have chipped off the corner of the building.

Following the accident, the Department of Buildings conducted an inspection. This inspection found cracks in the building’s frontage as well as missing terracotta pieces. They have ranked it as a class 1 violation, which requires immediate fixation. 

The Applicable Law For Falling Debris

Falling Debris is a fatal accident, especially with structures that are older and have not been maintained well. Local Law 11 of 1998 requires that all buildings greater than six stories in height have their façades inspected every five years. This determines whether any repair work needs to be performed.  The inspectors submit their reports to the Department of Buildings, per the requirements of the law.  When a building requires façade repair, the owners must construct a sidewalk shed along their façade to protect pedestrians below.  It is unclear whether the building involved in this accident complied with Local Law 11 in recent years. Following the accident, construction workers began building a sidewalk shed to protect passing pedestrians.  However, based on construction records, this project should have been completed months ago. A falling object accident can be fatal and deserve high levels of safety regulations.

The Public Reaction

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed condolences shortly after the accident. “My heart goes out to the family. We need to know how that happened. We need to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” de Blasio said. This type of tragedy should never happen in New York City.  A building owner has a duty to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition. 

The Department of Buildings has a series of regulations to ensure that buildings in New York City are safe for visitors and passersby.  Where, as here, it appears that the building owner has failed to do the bare minimum of providing a sidewalk bridge to protect pedestrians on the sidewalk below, they must be held responsible for this terrible tragedy.

If you or someone you love is injured from falling debris, please do not hesitate to contact the knowledgeable attorneys at The Platta Law Firm, PLLC.

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