People tend to think of fire escapes as lifesaving devices that allow people to quickly escape from multi-floor buildings in the event of a fire or other disaster. But for one 58-year-old Garden City husband and father of three children, a freak accident involving a Soho fire escape was the cause of his untimely death last year.
The man's 57-year-old widow recently filed a lawsuit alleging the wrongful death of her husband. Defendants include the building's owners and management, an inspection company, maintenance company and construction company.
The man was in New York City for work purposes and on Feb. 16, 2018, he was walking on Broadway near its intersection with Howard Street. Above him on the fire escape was an inspector who was checking the condition of the fire escape of the building located at 434 Broadway.
As the inspector descended the ladder, his "body weight caused an individual stair tread to break off from the fire escape and fall approximately seven stories to the sidewalk below," according to the petition for damages that was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
He was not the only pedestrian who was struck by the falling step. A woman who also got hit but survived has also filed a still-pending lawsuit in Queens.
The step was heavy and large, measuring 4' x 2'. It struck the lighting design engineer as he passed on the sidewalk below. He succumbed to his injuries in the hospital the following day.
His wife's attorney in the matter noted that the accident "really shined a spotlight on a problem in New York City. Most new buildings don't have exterior fire escapes … because they are hard to maintain."
He alleges the fire escape was rusty and the rust had been covered by a fresh coat of paint instead of being repaired.
Building owners have the responsibility to ensure that their properties are safe and that conditions don't exist within them that could cause people to be hurt or killed. If you are injured in a building accident in New York City, you may need to seek legal guidance for the best way to receive compensation for your damages.