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Architect Withholds Documents Related To Building Collapse

A grand jury will convene to investigate the June 5 collapse of a four-story brick wall in a construction site accident in Center City. An unsupported brick wall fell onto a Salvation Army thrift store next door to the project, killing six people when they were crushed inside the store and injuring 14 others. The Philadelphia architect who obtained the permit for the demolition project is resisting a federal subpoena demanding documents in connection with the deadly collapse.

The U.S. Department of Labor asked U.S. District Court to request that the architect submit video, photographs, correspondence and other documents related to the demolition project. As of Sept 18, 116 pages were submitted by the architect’s attorney to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency in charge of investigating the tragedy.

Citing his client’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the attorney said that some documents were not included among those submitted to OSHA, “in light of the ongoing grand jury and other criminal investigations and statements of the mayor” but did not specify which information was being withheld.

In an attachment to the federal petition, an OSHA compliance officer stated that the investigation into the collapse cannot be successfully undertaken without all the documents requested in the subpoena. The government argues that the subpoenaed documents were business-related and not under Fifth Amendment protection.

Accidents such as the Center City tragedy often occur because of a failure to adhere to strict safety guidelines. If an individual is harmed because of a lapse in safety, a personal injury lawyer can help in recovering damages resulting from a construction or demolition site injury.

philly.com, “Architect in fatal Market Street collapse cites Fifth” Bob Warner, Oct. 17, 2013