Posted: February 13, 2017

Now that the civil trial into the 2013 Center City building collapse is over, an arbitrator will be tasked with the job of dividing $227 million among the families and survivors of the 2013 tragedy. That was the amount of a settlement reached last week between attorneys for defendants including the Salvation Army and a real estate speculator and the estates of the seven people who were killed and 12 injured when a structure being demolished collapsed on top of a Salvation Army thrift shop. The trial in the case lasted 17 weeks and resulted in a jury finding that the organization and others were at fault. Before the jury could decide damages, the $227 settlement was reached with attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants in the case. Kline & Specter’s Andy Stern and Elizabeth Crawford were at the center of the litigation, representing Mariya Plekan, who was trapped beneath the rubble for nearly 13 hours and suffered catastrophic injuries as a result. Both her legs were amputated up to her hips, a procedure Stern described at trial as a “guillotine amputation.” Plekan has endured 30 surgeries, while suffering kidney failure, lung problems and the loss of her ability to speak because of the damage caused by long periods on a ventilator. She is expected to testify before the arbitrator using an electronic device. Stern said Plekan will require round-the-clock nursing care for the rest of her life and he estimated her future medical expenses at more than $50 million, which does not include significant past medical expenses. Because of her ongoing medical needs as well as her permanent injuries and anguish, The Philadelphia Inquirer estimated in an article about the settlement that Plekan is likely to receive the largest individual share of the settlement. A decision by the arbitrator is expected around mid-March. But regardless of the amount of money received by Plekan, which is expected to be a none-digit number, a Ukrainian immigrant who delighted in shopping at the thrift store, she will never be able to enjoy life as she once did. As Stern told the Inquirer, “These defendants took every enjoyable element of her life and it’s gone.”