The former residents of a West Philadelphia apartment complex that was destroyed in a 2011 fire have agreed to a $4.75 million settlement. The building owners had been accused of failing to prevent the tragedy. The owners of the Windemere Court Apartments agreed to the settlement after several days of trial in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas before Judge Mary Colins. The case had been filed as a class action. The class members, who numbered more than 100, had alleged that the building owners, David, Sam and Aron Ginsberg, failed to install sufficient fire protection systems and did not protect and salvage their property after the fire.
The four-story, multiple-wing Windemere was ultimately razed after a fire originating in a second-floor apartment spread across the entire complex in January of 2011. Two former tenants filed the class action lawsuit in February 2011, alleging that more than 100 people affected by the fire were not able to return to salvage their property from the site for several weeks. They said by then anything remaining had been exposed to the elements and left vulnerable to looters and vandals. Judge Colins certified the class in February 2013. The case went to trial on Dec. 4th and it was settled during the trial. The settlement is subject to court approval.
A new and separate suit was filed on the eve of the trial by the Ginsbergs against their insurers and former counsel. They said the sole settlement offer made by the insurers — two Zurich NA subsidiaries — was a $325,000 proposal made in March. In that suit — also filed in Philadelphia — the building owners accused the insurers of failing to settle and leaving them exposed to punitive damages. The class action Plaintiffs are represented by Thomas More Marrone and Ron Greenblatt of Greenblatt Pierce Engle Funt & Flores. It appears that they did a very good job for the class.
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