Kreindler Representing Young Pianist Critically Injured in Boston Building Collapse
- Kreindler is representing a young woman who was seriously injured while walking along Harvard street in Boston when a building facade collapsed, burying her under large chunks of concrete.
- Partner Anthony Tarricone has a long history of successfully representing victims and families in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases.
May 5, 2022
Kreindler continues to prepare for trial as a result of this tragic Boston building collapse. Kreindler’s amended complaint alleges that the defendants are strictly liable because the collapse and our clients’ injuries were the result of State Building Code violations. During discovery, our investigation uncovered that water had been penetrating the building’s envelope for many years, the conditions had been reported in roof inspection reports but had not been repaired and likely contributed to the weakening of the almost 100-year-old unbraced parapet. Additionally, it appears that a sign for the restaurant had been suspended from the parapet wall despite a prohibition in the code, and the combination of all these factors resulted in the structural collapse.
May 15, 2020
Kreindler is currently in the discovery phase of this litigation and pursuing critical documents from the three defendants named in the lawsuit, the building owner, the property management company hired by the building owner, and the owners of the longtime restaurant and bar tenant at the time of the accident, Common Ground.
November 11, 2019
Kreindler attorneys moved to amend the complaint against all three defendants.
May 20, 2019
Kreindler & Kreindler, along with two other law firms, filed a lawsuit in Boston on behalf of a young couple seriously injured and traumatized while walking on a street in the Boston neighborhood of Allston on Sunday, November 4, 2018, when the façade and parapet of a commercial building suddenly collapsed. Sonya Bandouil, 23, was buried alive under tons of concrete and other rubble that fell from 85 Harvard Avenue, suffering life threatening injuries including multiple fractures and a hand injury that required the amputation of a finger on her dominant hand. Her boyfriend, Alex Pankiewicz, 25, also injured, worked with other pedestrians in the minutes immediately following the collapse to dig Sonya out. Defendants in the suit, filed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Superior Court, are Moss Realty LLP, owner of the building; Myer Dana and Sons, Inc., the company under contract to manage and maintain the building; and Badoinkas, Inc., tenant of the building and which operates a street level restaurant and bar in the building called “The Common Ground.”
April 4, 2019
This horrific building collapse onto a public sidewalk should never have happened. Debris from the collapse shows that the concrete parapet hanging over the sidewalk was in a seriously deteriorated condition for years. It was just a matter of time before it would crumble and collapse, with tons of large concrete blocks falling onto the public sidewalk along the length of the building — unfortunately, while Sonya and Alex were there.
On November 4, 2018, 22-year-old Sonya Bandouil was seriously injured as she and her boyfriend were walking along Harvard Street in Allston — an area of Boston popular with college students and young people — when the concrete top of a one-story building façade collapsed and buried her under large, heavy chunks of concrete. Surveillance camera videos show Sonya and her boyfriend, Alex Pankiewicz, walking past the entrance to the Common Ground Bar and Grill and stopping to read the menu at another restaurant in the same building when the upper façade of the building suddenly came crashing down. Alex and a passersby frantically cleared away large chunks of concrete and rubble to free Sonya. A nurse practitioner who witnessed the collapse from her car rendered first aid at the scene before the arrival of EMTs.
According to the witness’s statement to The Boston Globe, Sonya’s hand appeared to be crushed. She also had cuts on her head and could not feel her legs. The victim’s boyfriend, who was also injured, was more worried about his girlfriend — her hand, in particular, since she was an accomplished pianist. “He had some blood on his arm but he was just so concerned about her he ignored it,” the witness said. “He kept asking if she’s going to be able to play again. He was clearly heartbroken.” Both victims were taken to the hospital.
Structural engineers who examined the site of the Allston collapse came to the conclusion that “years of deterioration had weakened the building’s façade.” The Boston Globe further reported, “the decay was believed to have been triggered from water that got into the structure and then expanded during the freeze-thaw cycle.”
Experts believe another contributing factor may have been strong winds. The building’s parapet had a sign attached to it which may have caught the wind, the swaying movement of which further separated the material connecting the façade to the building.
Lack of Mandatory Inspections
One of the engineers and author of the Allston collapse report, Bob Freel, told The Globe that he believes low-rise buildings should be inspected regularly to avoid these types of accidents. In addition, Michael Peterman, an architect and co-chair of the international materials organization ASTM’s (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials) façade inspection task group, doesn’t believe there are any cities that currently require façade inspections for low-rise buildings.
Previous Sudden Brick and Concrete Failures
The Common Ground facade collapse is only one of the more recent, growing number of similar accidents. Six other buildings in the Boston area have experienced unexpected façade collapses within the past 15 months.
And it’s not limited to the Boston area. Just over a week following the Allston collapse, the front of a 115-year-old building toppled over in downtown Russellville, Alabama, barely missing the building owner and a small child. In August 2018, bricks from the front wall of an art gallery in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood crumbled onto the sidewalk and into the street causing traffic to be rerouted. And tragically, in 2015, a two-year-old girl died after she and her grandmother were crushed beneath stone and debris when an eighth-floor window ledge fell from a Manhattan building.
Façades in the northeastern United States may be more susceptible to unexpected collapses because of the combination of the age of the buildings and the rain-freeze-thaw cycle of the climate, both of which can accelerate the deterioration.
Many cities around the country, Boston included, require buildings over a specific height to undergo regular façade inspections. As of now, however, inspections are typically not mandatory for low-rise structures such as the Common Ground building in Allston. “The obligation to maintain the buildings falls on the owner,” Quincy Building Commissioner Jay Duca told The Boston Herald. “There’s no inspection of a parapet unless they’re doing work on it or on the roof.”
According to facadeordinance.com, only buildings taller than 70 feet or those deemed a high-rise structure require inspection. Inspections of building façades on structures up to 125 feet can be “performed visually with the aid of binoculars or other equipment, or from adjacent structures, etc. Façades higher than 125 feet above grade shall include a close-range visual inspection consisting of at least one drop per façade. Inspection of an occupied structure is required at least once every five years and once per year for unoccupied structures. Inspection reports are required to be written by a registered architect or engineer.”
With the increase in façade collapses, it would be in the best interest of cities to begin requiring more frequent inspections on the exteriors of older buildings of all heights.
Boston partner Anthony Tarricone and the Kreindler legal team, working with co-counsel Muhammad Aziz of the Houston law firm Abraham Watkins, represent Sonya Bandouil and Alex Pankiewicz in legal claims arising from the building collapse. They are continuing their intensive investigation into the cause of the Common Ground façade collapse and the broader issue of aging, failing and dangerous concrete facades and parapets. Regardless of what particular conditions and circumstances are found to have played a causative role in the Common Ground façade collapse, the legal team is confident that property owners and managers in Massachusetts are legally obligated to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition, regardless of the source of the danger. The age of the building and type of construction are such that frequent, periodic inspection of the structural integrity of the building is called for to prevent injury to unsuspecting members of the public in the building or on the adjacent public sidewalk.
About Kreindler & Kreindler
Kreindler is one of the largest and most distinguished aviation accident law firms in the world. Since 1950, our attorneys have served as lead counsel in nearly every major commercial aviation disaster litigation. Additionally, we have handled countless private, charter, military, general aviation and helicopter accident cases. Our partners have authored numerous highly acclaimed books, articles and treatises on aviation litigation, including the leading treatise in the field, Aviation Accident Law.
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Kreindler has literally written the book on aviation accident law. Our partners have authored numerous highly acclaimed books, articles and treatises, including the leading treatise in the aviation litigation field, Aviation Accident Law.