Professionals allege neighbors illegally accessed their property, disabled their electricity and conducted demolition

By Nicholas Malfitano | Mar 12, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – A pair of Old City, Philadelphia property owners, including a practicing attorney, have filed litigation against their next-door neighbors, claiming the adjoining property unlawfully accessed their building, caused the loss of electrical power and conducted unlawful demolition work which harmed their building’s structural integrity.

Bernice Kane and Lauren Kane of Philadelphia filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 26 versus 724 Chestnut Street Development, LLC and Urban Space Contracting Group, LLC, both also of Philadelphia.

The suit details that the plaintiffs are the owners of 726 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, where Lauren maintains an office in her work as an attorney, licensed to practice law Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida. Their next-door neighbor is the defendant, a contractor who owns 724 Chestnut Street and purchased that property in October 2017.

The litigants also mutually share a party wall and prior to the defendant’s purchase, the defendant’s attorney was allegedly notified of openings in the party wall made by the previous property owner, and the related litigation in which the plaintiffs’ counsel was involved. The openings still exist at the present time.

On or about Feb. 18, attorney Kane went to 726 Chestnut Street accompanied by a structural engineer, there to conduct an inspection and survey – and upon which, allegedly found evidence that the defendants and their employees or contractors had accessed the 726 property through the opening in the basement party wall.

Along with the supposedly unlawful entering, 726’s electrical system had been altered, rendering the electrical service at 726 inoperable on its 1st through 4th Floors, including in attorney Kane’s office, between Feb. 1 and Feb. 18. Besides general problems related to electrical failure, the power issues rendered the law office’s Internet, telephone and fax machine services useless.

The suit says as attorney Kane has no access to the electrical systems in 724 Chestnut Street, she is not able to remedy the electrical problems at her neighboring property at 726, and is liable to suffer both “irreparable harm” and “potential malpractice claims” without the use of her offices.

The Feb. 18 inspection also revealed evidence of “significant structural demolition work” at 724, which violated the permit’s tenets allowing for “the interior demolition of non-bearing partition walls and ceilings” only, and placed 726’s structural integrity in question.

For counts of claim in equity and trespass to land, the plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, jointly and severally, in excess of $50,000, plus costs, counsel fees and any other relief which the Court deems just.

The plaintiffs additionally filed a temporary restraining order at the same time as the complaint, which seeks to enjoin the defendants from further:

  • Entering/accessing plaintiff’ property at 726 Chestnut Street;
  • Conducting any demolition in the basement of 724 Chestnut Street without first obtaining necessary permits and approvals;
  • Providing plaintiffs and requisite Philadelphia officials with complete demolition plans and a certification from a licensed, qualified and insured structural engineer, that the proposed demolition would not adversely impact 726;
  • And to require defendants to restore electrical and related services to 726, which defendants unlawfully altered and otherwise modified, and further restraining and enjoining defendants from taking any action which adversely impacts plaintiffs’ property at 726 Chestnut Street.
The plaintiffs are represented by David Alan Klein in Haddonfield, N.J.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180202554

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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