Robert M. Mongeluzzi, who represents seven victims, said a delay would make it more difficult for plaintiffs' lawyers to pursue their claims.
"From our perspective, as time goes on, memories fade. Evidence gets lost. People die," he said. "It is already two months postaccident. Normally in cases we use the first year to really jump-start discovery, making sure there's no defendant out there that we missed."
In complex cases, it typically takes about 26 months from the beginning of discovery until trial, Mongeluzzi said. A nine-month delay in discovery could push back trials for close to three years.
"I quite frankly think it's outrageous," said James Golkow, who represents victim Shirley Ball. "As the saying goes, 'Justice delayed is justice denied.' My client has not been back to work, she has mounting medical bills with no health insurance. . . . We've now turned a two-year wait into three or four years."
Andrew J. Stern, who filed suit Monday on behalf of Mariya Plekan, who was buried in the debris for 13 hours and lost her legs, is not yet affected by the stay. He has asked the judge to let him depose Plekan next month, saying her health was precarious.
Plekan remains at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania suffering from kidney failure, liver dysfunction, heart and breathing problems, and sepsis. Stern said her medical condition leaves her "at risk of sudden and imminent death."
"She was buried alive for 13 hours, but she remained conscious. She has a memory of what happened, memory of people trying to find her, memory of going to the hospital . . . lots of important evidence," he said. "I'm just seeking . . . to preserve her testimony so a Philadelphia jury can hear her story in the event something happens to her."
Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or firstname.lastname@example.org.