On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, residents in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn were shocked when a three-story building on the corner of Court and Union Streets suddenly collapsed around 4:30 p.m. Jacinto Salazar, 52, was left injured and debris littered the street.
The building housed Body Elite Gym, which comprised all three floors. Luckily, the building had been vacant at the time of the collapse as the gym was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Salazar, who had worked for the gym for 18 years, was inside doing some maintenance work. According to Salazar, he was on the second floor when he heard a loud creaking noise he assumed was the wind. Shortly after, the building came crashing down around him. Miraculously, he managed to escape with minor injuries and was treated at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Our thoughts are with him after this frightening incident.
Immediately after the collapse, NYPD reportedly searched the wreckage with K9 units for other potential victims. Additionally, in a briefing on Wednesday night, FDNY Fire Operations Chief Thomas Richardson said NY DOB and FDNY crews would sift through the rubble overnight.
The building had been under construction with scaffolding built along the Union Street side. On June 10, 2020, a partial stop-work order was issued for a construction violation related to three laborers working on a masonry demolition. According to city records, a roughly 20-foot by 15-foot masonry brick wall was “dangerously bulging over the public sidewalk [with] no protection provided.”
DOB Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement Timothy Hogan said they are still working to determine the cause of the collapse. He, however, noted, “There was a bulge in the exterior wall and that was one of the things that they were here about the stop-work order, because of the way they were performing the work.” Hogan says the remains of the building will be demolished. A full vacate order has been issued for the neighboring building until the site is deemed safe.
This incident left the neighborhood shaken up, one witness described the collapse as “the loudest boom or bang I ever heard.” Robert Alimena, who had owned Body Elite Gym since it first opened, said the building’s landlord was having brick and stucco work done. The heaviest gym equipment was said to have been kept on the lower level of the building. He noted that the building is designated as a “factory building” which was “structured for the right amount of weight.” Sadly, Alimena told reporters “…it looks like I have a complete loss here. I don’t think we’re ever going to rebuild.”
According to neighbor Robert Anthony, the Union Street side of the building was “bulging out for years.” City inspectors cited the structure’s “major cracks on the exterior wall” in 2019 along with a “horizontal crack and bulge” on the building’s side in 2006.
The results of a building collapse can be catastrophic, whether the collapse is total or partial. These accidents can be the result of degenerative conditions in the building, errors made in design, construction, or demolition. It is on the building engineers, architects, and construction companies to make sure they are adhering to all New York Building Codes and design principles to ensure overall safety.
In the case that a building collapse does occur, victims may wish to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for damages they have suffered as a result of the responsible party’s negligence. When determining liability for a building collapse, one must determine who is responsible for the original defect, and whether or not this party should have anticipated and acted to prevent the defect. Ultimately, one must prove whether or not the cause of the building collapse was foreseeable.
If you have been injured in an accident cause by another party’s negligence, you may wish to contact an experienced personal injury attorney that can immediately launch an investigation into your case. The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have a proven track record in helping their clients obtain compensation they are legally entitled to, including a $5,850,000 settlement for a woman who suffered multi-level disc herniations after her ceiling collapsed and hit her head.