Woman badly hurt in building collapse files suit

Posted: August 21, 2013

A woman who lost her legs after being buried for nearly 13 hours in the Market Street building collapse filed a lawsuit Monday alleging widespread negligence in the catastrophic June 5 accident.

Mariya Plekan, a 52-year-old immigrant from Ukraine, was shopping in the Salvation Army thrift shop at 22d and Market Streets when a wall being demolished in the building next door fell onto the store's roof.

Plekan suffered devastating injuries "that led to the removal of her entire lower body," the suit says.

She also suffered kidney failure, cardiac arrest, liver dysfunction, sepsis, ventilator dependence, "as well as countless invasive surgical procedures that are still ongoing at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania."

Six people died in the accident and 14 others were injured.

Anticipating that the suit may be stayed while criminal proceedings are underway, Plekan's attorney, Andrew Stern, also filed a motion to preserve her testimony as soon as possible.

Stern said Plekan "could die any moment" because of her medical condition, so he wants to have her testimony preserved for a future trial.

Named as defendants are the Salvation Army at the local, state, and national levels, and Richard Basciano, a principal in STB Investments Corp., which owned the neighboring building that was being demolished.

Also named as defendants are Griffin T. Campbell, the demolition contractor; Sean Benschop, a contractor who was operating an excavator at the site when the collapse occurred; Thomas J. Simmonds Jr., the property manager for Basciano; and others.

The suit does not specify a damage amount.

A widow who immigrated to the United States 11 years ago, Plekan came to the Philadelphia area to care for an elderly aunt. After her aunt died, Plekan took a job caring for the elderly.

After the collapse, Plekan's two grown children left Ukraine to be with her. The children plan to live here to care for their mother.


Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.

Inquirer staff writer Theodore Schleifer contributed to this article.

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