$6M Settlement in Suit Over Falling Bricks at Lululemon Store

A woman injured when bricks from an adjacent building crashed through a Lululemon store has settled her lawsuit against the property owner for $6 million.

On Jan. 27, 2015, Allison Friedman was struck by falling debris while shopping at the Lululemon store formerly located at the corner of 15th Street and Walnut Street in Center City Philadelphia. She was hospitalized after sustaining back, neck and shoulder injuries.

Friedman sued the property owner of the adjacent building, 1529 Walnut St., and the property manager, Pearl Properties Commercial Management, claiming the owner was negligent for failing to properly maintain the building.

“Pennsylvania law demands that commercial property owners exercise a high degree of care to protect business invitees from dangerous conditions on/near the subject premises. The law requires that the premises must be in a reasonably safe condition and warnings about potential dangers must also be provided. This duty also requires recognition of potential dangers that would otherwise be discoverable after a reasonable investigation or inspection,” Friedman’s pretrial memorandum said.

Friedman was represented by Robert J. Mongeluzzi and Jeffrey P. Goodman of Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky. Mongeluzzi said that obtaining the property’s building inspection report was instrumental in bolstering the plaintiff’s case because it showed the owners knew about an existing defect.

“If you have a case where someone has purchased in a property in the years leading up to an accident, look for the property inspection,” Mongeluzzi said.

He added, “This was a case where I think it’s an incredible result. Allie had significant injuries, but even in terms of her injuries it was an outlier type of settlement. There was exhaustive discovery, including us being able to prove there was early notice of a defect.”

According to the pretrial memorandum, Friedman suffers from ongoing pain from the accident and experiences a reduced range of motion in her right shoulder, post-surgery.

The defendants argued that the property was well-maintained and that negligence did not cause the bricks to detach from the building’s parapet. “Pearl Properties had a periodic preventative maintenance program in place that included roof-level inspections; however, the condition of the east parapet wall was not readily visible from any typical vantage points,” the defendants’ pretrial memorandum said.

“Pearl Properties had a preventative maintenance program in place, executed said program, and, once aware of the concern at issue, took reasonable and prompt steps to have a professional structural engineer assess the concern. The mere fact that an accident occurred does not establish Pearl Properties breached any duty owed to [Friedman].”

The defendants’ lawyer, William J. Conroy of Campbell, Campbell, Edwards and Conroy did not return a call seeking comment.

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