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Hundreds of Dangerous Facades in NYC Are Exposed after the Tragic Accident

Falling debris fatally struck Erica Tishman on December 17, 2019 as she walked by a building that was over 100 years old and 17-stories high. Part of the Midtown building’s facade had come loose and fell. The accident occurred near 49th Street at 729 Seventh Avenue, close to Times Square.

The New York Post reported that in April a citation had been filed for that address. The citation noted "failure to maintain exterior building facade and appurtenances."

At the time of Tishman’s death, no sidewalk shed existed to protect pedestrians against falling debris. However, contractors began erecting a shed immediately after her death. Also, a year had gone by with knowledge about the façade’s state of disrepair, and nothing had been done to fix it.

Ms. Tishman was only a 10-minute walk away from Zubatkin project-management where she worked as Vice President. The 60-year old executive was born and raised in New York and received her Master's in Architecture from Harvard University. She was a philanthropist, active in the Jewish community and was survived by her husband and three children.

Building Inspections Increase

Within 30 hours after Erica Tishman's death, the city inspected more than 1,330 buildings with poor-quality exteriors and issued citations for 220 violations. The Department of Building doubled the size of its inspection team. Their intention was to protect pedestrians against crumbing walls and falling debris by putting stricter requirements in place.

Building inspectors also planned for random inspections of one in four buildings that were more than six stories high. In particular, they would inspect facades and ensure sidewalk sheds existed to protect against falling debris.

Buildings that are six stories high or more will receive inspections every five years.

Stiffer Enforcement Actions Against Falling Debris and Other Inspection Violations

The Department of Buildings implemented a new initiative for building owners who failed to repair unsafe conditions. The initiative would subject owners to more frequent inspections. Building inspectors would repeat an inspection of the most severe violators within 60 days and inspect again in 90 days to ensure repairs were done. If owners failed to install pedestrian protection, the city would hire contractors to do repairs and bill the building owners.

(Reference: New York Post)

A Legal Perspective: Premises Liability and Wrongful Death

From a legal perspective, an accidental death falls under premises liability and wrongful death laws.

If as a result of hazardous property conditions, a loved one is seriously injured or dies, you should discuss the prospects of pursuing legal action with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

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