Hearing on subpoenaed documents from architect on Phila. building collapse abruptly postponed

By Jon Campisi | Oct 18, 2013

A hearing to address a government petition to force architect Plato

Marinakos, Jr. to turn over certain subpoenaed records relating to June’s deadly building collapse in Philadelphia was abruptly canceled Wednesday.

There was no word on why U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez, of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, canceled the proceeding at what seemed like the last minute.

A reporter and three other people waiting outside the courtroom on Wednesday afternoon learned of the cancellation on the spot.

The court docket in the case didn’t offer an explanation for the postponement and U.S. Labor Department lawyer Michael Doyle didn’t return an emailed message from the Pennsylvania Record seeking additional information.

Earlier this month, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez filed a petition for summary enforcement of a subpoena that had been issued to Marinakos, one that the architect has apparently refused to answer in full.

The subpoena, which had been issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, seeks the release of documents relating to the government’s investigation of the building collapse that took place in Center City, Philadelphia in early June, a construction incident that killed six and left more than a dozen injured.

The tragedy arose when an unsupported wall from a demolition site collapsed onto an adjacent building housing a Salvation Army thrift shop.

In court filings, Labor Department attorneys wrote that the subpoena is a “legitimate exercise of the Secretary’s investigative authority under the OSH Act and should be enforced.”

Marinakos has reportedly said he will be invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in his decision to not turn over all the subpoenaed documents.

The architect is one of a handful of people connected to the incident who are being sued in civil court.

The litigation has since been stayed by a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge while a parallel criminal investigation plays out.

In the subpoena issued to Marinakos, who worked on the demolition site, OSHA investigators seek eight categories of documents relating to the demolition project.

The information sought includes reports, surveys, blueprints, photographs and correspondence between Marinakos and Griffin Campbell, the man hired to demolish the vacant structure next to the Salvation Army store.

A lawyer for Marinakos had earlier acknowledged service of the subpoena that had been issued to his client in July, according to the Labor Department’s petition.

In a letter to the government, however, the attorney said Marinakos would be invoking his Fifth Amendment rights in his decision not to release all of the requested documents.

Marinakos has thus far reportedly turned over 116 pages of requested documents, but withheld others.

The Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday reported that the postponement of the hearing the day before might signal that Marinakos and the government are attempting to work out a deal that would resolve the dispute over the subpoenaed documents.

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