Philly man alleges contractors' inadequate work plans caused damage to his adjacent property

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jan 3, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia man says that contractors who engaged in demolition and building work at a location adjacent to his did so with improperly prepared plans, which resulted in damage to the basement, exterior and interior walls of his own property, in a recent lawsuit.

Robert Langley of Philadelphia filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 24 versus AEL Contractors, LLC and New Era Construction & Management, LLC (doing business as “New Era Construction & Management”) of Philadelphia, plus Henry Building Services, LLC of Drexel Hill.

“Prior to Oct. 4, 2017, the owner of the neighboring property [located next to the subject property] contracted defendant New Era to construct the dwelling on the empty lot that was the neighboring property Upon information and belief, defendant New Era contracted Henry to prepare architectural and engineering plans (hereinafter the “plans”) for construction of the neighboring property,” the suit states.

“Upon information and belief, Trevor Henry, an employee, contractor, officer, director, and/or other agent of defendant Henry, prepared the plans for construction of the neighboring property. Upon information and belief, the plans were prepared improperly.”

The suit adds Trevor sought and obtained special licensure from the City of Philadelphia, allowing him to act as a special inspector for residential properties. In using that license, Trevor inspected the neighboring property instead of an agent from the City.

“Prior to Oct. 4, 2017, defendant New Era retained defendant AEL to perform demolition and construction work at the neighboring property. On or before Oct. 4, 2017, defendant AEL was excavating the basement area of the neighboring property,” per the litigation.

“AEL failed to provide the proper support, underpinning, bracing or other means to fully and properly support the subject property during the excavation work. As a result, the subject property sustained cracks in the basement slab and exterior walls, cracks in the first floor drywall, and separation of the north wall from the front wall. As a result, plaintiff Langley sustained severe damages to the subject property in an amount in excess of $50,000.”

According to the complaint, the defendants were responsible for failing to provide the necessary and proper support at the subject property during the excavation work at the neighboring property; failing to perform the required underpinning and bracing at the subject property during the excavation work at the neighboring property; and failing to use all other means to fully and properly support the subject property during the excavation work at the neighboring property, among other charges.

On Nov. 27, counsel for Henry Building Services filed an answer to the complaint with new matter and a cross-claim, denying the plaintiff’s claims in their entirety, alleging it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be awarded, that the cause of the incident was the plaintiff’s own negligence, that the claims were barred by a number of affirmative defenses such as statutes of limitations, doctrines of spoliation and equitable estoppel and that his requests for damages are excessive and unsupported. Further, Henry Building Services alleged its co-defendants were the liable and responsible parties.

On Dec. 5, Langley categorically denied Henry’s Building Services new matter objections and its cross-claim in a reply filing, dismissing them as conclusions of law to which no responsive pleading was required.

For nine counts of negligence, breach of warranty and trespass to land, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus interests, costs, such other relief as the Court deems just and proper under the circumstances and a trial by jury.

The plaintiff is represented by Jesse M. Cohen of Sacks Weston Diamond, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Vincent M. Carita of the Law Office of Peter Callahan, also in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180902911

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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