Attorney for Phila. firefighters who died in warehouse blaze files court papers signaling possible litigation

By Jon Campisi | May 9, 2012

The parents of a 25-year-old Philadelphia firefighter who was killed during a warehouse blaze last month are intending to sue the owners of the derelict property.

Attorney Joel S. Rosen, of the Philadelphia law firm Cohen Placitella & Roth, filed what is known as a writ of summons at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court May 4.

The legal paperwork is the last step prior to filing a civil action in state court.

No official complaint had been filed as of Tuesday, and in a brief telephone interview, Rosen said he couldn’t say how long it would take to file a formal complaint, or even if one will be filed.

Under state law, he has a two-year statute of limitations in which to bring a civil action, he said.

“Right now this is just done for discovery purposes,” Rosen said.

The move, however, signals that David and Marian Sweeney intend to recover damages relating to the death of their son, Daniel Sweeney, who was killed alongside Lt. Robert P. Neary, 60, a firefighter who was close to retiring.

Sweeney and Neary lost their lives battling the five-alarm fire that broke out in the abandoned Thomas W. Buck Hosiery building in the city’s Kensington section on April 9.

Sweeney had been on the job for five years, according to local news reports.

The defendants who have been named in the pending litigation are York Street Property Development LP, York Street Property Development GP, LLC, YML Realty Inc., and Michael and Mahman Lichtenstein.

The Lichtensteins are the Brooklyn, NY-based owners of the old warehouse building where the firefighters were killed in what news reports stated was the Philadelphia Fire Department’s most tragic day in seven years.

The property owners have gotten flack for their apparent nonchalance relating to the abandoned building; they were informed by Philadelphia officials on numerous occasions that the warehouse presented a danger given its deteriorated condition, but they never took the steps to remedy the situation, news reports have stated.

The Lichtensteins also allegedly owe more than $60,000 in back taxes and $12,000 in water and sewer bills on the property, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last month.

On the same day that the Sweeney writ of summons was filed, similar court papers were filed by Rosen on behalf of Francis Chaney and Pat Nally, two Philadelphia firefighters who were injured in the warehouse blaze but survived.

The same defendants were named in the Chaney and Nally court filings.


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