Parents of Market Street Building Collapse Victim Continue to Question How Architect Plato A. Marinakos, AIA, Can Still Practice in Pennsylvania

Anne Bryan’s parents have been calling for license revocation for the past two years.

Philadelphia, PA (December 4, 2017) – It has been two years since John Bryan, P.E., father of Philadelphia building collapse victim Anne Bryan, formally petitioned the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to revoke the architectural license of Plato A. Marinakos, AIA, for his role in failing to prevent the June 5, 2013 catastrophe that took the life of his daughter and other innocent victims. Mr. Bryan, a licensed engineer, and his wife, Nancy Winkler, said despite criminal convictions, and a landmark settlement in the civil litigation resulting from the catastrophe, the full measure of justice demands that Marinakos, the architect-owners representative, lose his professional license.

The complaint (#15-41-12150, PA Dept. of State, Architects Licensure Board) filed against Marinakos notes that despite admitting he failed to take actions that could have prevented the tragedy, he testified at the building collapse criminal trial under a full grant of immunity from prosecution. An inexperienced and unlicensed demolition contractor (Griffin Campbell), was convicted, and the project’s heavy equipment operator pleaded guilty in the case. They are both serving prison sentences.

While Marinakos avoided prosecution by virtue of his plea bargain, he was among those (including his client, the late Richard Basciano and STB Investment Corp.) found responsible for the collapse by a jury in the civil trial.

Specifically, the jury determined that Marinakos, who was in charge of ensuring safety at and around the demolition site, was negligent; that his negligence was a cause in bringing about harm (i.e. the death of Anne Bryan and six other victims as well as life-threatening injury to others), and that his conduct was extreme and outrageous.

During the civil trial plaintiffs’ attorney Robert J. Mongeluzzi, of Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C., argued that days before the collapse, Marinakos, concerned the project was running behind schedule, instructed Campbell to switch from hand demolition to a dangerous mechanical demolition. This fundamental change in the method of demolition created a highly dangerous condition at the adjoining – open-for-business – Salvation Army thrift store. The collapse occurred while the store was fully staffed and packed with shoppers and donors (including Anne Bryan and her best friend, also killed in the catastrophe).

“Given the jury’s verdict that Marinakos’ conduct was extreme and outrageous, and caused seven deaths, we cannot understand how Marinakos continues to practice architecture in Pennsylvania,” said Mr. Bryan and Ms. Winkler. “How is it possible that his actions leading up to the building collapse are not the textbook definition – under the rules of the state agency that oversees architects – of professional violations that warrant license revocation?”

They noted that the role of the state Board (established by Act 281 of 1982) is to “protect the health, safety and property of the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the regulation of the practice and licensure of the architectural profession. Among its other functions, the Board promulgates standards of professional conduct and establishes rules and regulations for the examination of licensure applicants.”

In their interaction to date with the Board (in which it will only confirm there’s an ongoing inquiry), Anne Bryan’s parents are also trying to get answers to the following questions:

  • How many licensed architects have lost their license for professional misconduct in Pennsylvania since the Board was created in 1982? (Its website identifies only one – and that was as a result of embezzlement.)
  • If an architect can lose a license for embezzlement, would the facts in the fatal Market Street building collapse case also constitute grounds for license revocation?
  • How can the Board, given its mandate to protect public health and safety, justify the delay – more than four years from the incident, and over two years from the complaint filing – in addressing the Marinakos case?

Mr. Bryan’s complaint to the Board detailed sections of the Code of Professional Conduct violated by Marinakos, based on trial testimony, including his own. These documented infractions included:

  1. Failure to stop the unsafe, lethal mechanical demolition: Just a few days before the disaster, he saw the mechanical excavator had been brought to the site, but but did nothing to prevent its use.
  2. Failure to prevent an unsafe condition by allowing the improper demolition of the critical adjoining building party wall: He was fully aware that the chimney of the Salvation Army store was attached to and supported by the 2136-38 Market St. building shared/party wall, and yet he advocated putting lives at risk put lives – in and around the open thrift store – when he suggested that the unsupported wall be taken down around the chimney.
  3. Failure, on the night before the collapse when he visited the site, to shut down the demolition despite observing – and photographing – the unbraced masonry party wall looming over the Salvation Army store. He testified at trial that he told Mr. (Griffin) Campbell (his foreman), “Griffin, you can’t leave this wall here. This is just crazy. I mean, you can’t do that.” Despite the fact that Campbell reported to him, Marinakos never directed him to shut down the job until the site could be secured and deemed safe for workers, and most of all, employees and visitors to the store. He had the knowledge and the authority, and did nothing.

Attorney Mongeluzzi argued at trial, and the jury determined by verdict, that Marinakos’ conduct was extreme and outrageous, and was a cause of the collapse.

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