A man who was injured in a 2017 Washington, Pennsylvania, building collapse has filed a lawsuit against the building’s landlords for failing to fix hazardous conditions on the property. The victim lived in the apartment building and was at home with his fiancée when the building collapsed. He managed to escape, but suffered injuries. His girlfriend was trapped beneath a refrigerator for hours waiting for rescue.
Premises-Liability Lawsuit Alleges Owners Ignored Problems at Main Street Apartment Building
The premises-liability lawsuit was filed by Nathan Engott, who lived in the building at 15 N. Main Street when it collapsed. Engott alleges he had an oral agreement with the landlords to rent an apartment. Those landlords—Mark Russo and Melissa Russo—allegedly knew about needed building repairs, but failed to make them.
Among the alleged needed repairs were cracks in the ceiling, cracks in the walls, fallen bricks, and foundation jacks that were used to prop up the building’s foundation. Engott’s lawsuit further claims Mark Russo tried to hide the building’s structural issues by covering the cracks.
Structural Collapse Trapped Resident for Nine Hours
At around 9:00 a.m. on July 12, 2017, a building on North Main Street in Washington, Pennsylvania, collapsed. Residents in the building said they heard a loud boom and opened their doors to see smoke and debris, followed by complete darkness. Many ran for their lives, not sure of whether the collapse would trigger further collapses. Some reported seeing cracks in the wall.
The collapse trapped Megan Angelone, fiancée to Nathan Engott, under a refrigerator for more than nine hours. The building failure threw her into her downstairs neighbor’s apartment, trapped by the refrigerator with a ceiling fan stuck in her side.
Rescuers made it to the scene quickly, but because of how the building collapsed and the scene around Angelone, officials deemed the site unstable. Shortly after the building failed, a warning horn went off, indicating the possibility of a second collapse and all rescuers were forced to exit the building, leaving Angelone on her own.
In all, more than 100 rescuers worked to save her, ultimately cutting a hole in a wall to get her out. Once she was freed, she was taken to the hospital, where she remained until late September 2017. She suffered a broken collarbone, nerve damage and pain, and was lucky not to lose her legs.
Engott Taken to Intensive Care for Injuries from Building Failure
Following the building collapse, Engott, who was also in the apartment at the time of the collapse, was taken to the intensive care unit at a hospital in Pittsburgh. According to the Pennsylvania apartment collapse lawsuit, he suffered contusions, abrasions and severe pain.
Pennsylvania Apartment Collapse Left Some Tenants Homeless
In addition to those injured in the collapse, some tenants found themselves homeless. At least two former residents lived for a while under a gazebo while construction crews waited to begin work. A section of the road near the building on was also shut down for months, while the city waited for news that the area was safe again.
A lawyer for the landlords said the Pennsylvania apartment collapse was caused by water from a downspout on the building next door and was not the result of negligence or wrongdoing. The collapse happened the day after rainstorms, which the lawyer argued caused water to pool on the building’s roof. One resident told reporters that during the storm a piece of the ceiling fell on him.
Officials in Washington referred to the building as a nuisance property and had given Russo citations for issues at the property. As of December 2017, at least some of the citations were resolved, although reports indicate Russo faced more than 30 citations at one point. Those 30 citations are linked to the building on Main Street and five other rental properties.
Dennis McCullough, a resident at the building on Main Street, reportedly began complaining early in 2017 about issues with the building, including a cracked wall. That complaint resulted in a citation for a failing wall that was not structurally sound.
Building Collapse Lawyer
At Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, our attorneys are highly experienced at investigating and litigating building collapses. We recognize the devastation that can occur when building owners cut corners and sacrifice safety for profits. We are committed to holding everyone responsible for a building collapse accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a building collapse, contact us to discuss your options.