Jim Boyle Dec. 11, 2014, 5:35pm


The more than 100 people who lost their homes to a fire at a West Philadelphia apartment

building in 2011 have settled a class action lawsuit with the property owners for $4.75 million at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Pending approval by the court, the settlement will be paid by defendants Sam, David and Aron Ginsberg and their respective management companies and split among the former tenants unable to recover most of their belongings in the five-alarm blaze that destroyed the Windermere Court Apartments on Jan. 10, 2011.

The original complaint alleged that the building’s fire detection and alarm system didn't sound when the fire first broke out in a second-floor apartment. The blaze eventually spread throughout the building and required the response of about 140 firefighters, court papers state.

In addition to property that was damaged by fire, smoke and water, the units that remained in the wreckage in the aftermath of the fire were eventually destroyed when the building had to be razed, the complaint states.

The lawsuit alleged that during the first few days after the fire, former residents were not allowed to salvage their property from the site and that the defendants did not themselves salvage the property and preserve it for the tenants.

Only after repeated demands did the defendants permit the tenants to salvage what few belongings they could fit inside a trash bag, the suit claims.

The vast majority of the property remained in the wreckage after the fire and was destroyed when the building was ultimately razed, according to the complaint.

The certified class includes only residents and guests of the building who claim losses due to the fire.

Class counsel in the case is Thomas More Marrone, a lawyer with the Philadelphia law firm Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt and Flores.

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