In a harrowing event, a beloved New Yorker, Erica Tishman, lost her life in what appears to be due to senseless neglect by the owners of a property located at 729 Seventh Avenue in mid-town Manhattan. The accident occurred on the morning of Tues., Dec. 17, 2019.
Tishman, a 60-year-old prominent architect who lived on the Upper East Side, was struck by a falling portion of the building façade as it came careening down to the sidewalk near a very busy Times Square. Commuters and passersby could only watch with horror as the NYFD and NYPD blocked off the road. Tragically, the woman died instantly. Police had pronounced Tishman dead at the scene at about 10:30 a.m.
Even more heartbreaking is this accident, and others like it, are preventable. Initial evidence suggests the owners knew about the problem and neglected to fix it.
According to The New York Post, the owners of this property had previously been issued a “class 1” violation for areas described as “damaged terra cotta at areas above 15th floor in several locations which pose a falling hazard for pedestrians.” The class 1 designation for building violations means owners must take immediate action on this type of infraction.
Reportedly, the owners of 729 Seventh Avenue obtained permits to make repairs on the deteriorated areas of the building back in October 2018 but delayed taking action. On Apr. 29, 2019, city officials issued the owners a $1,250 citation for “Failure to maintain exterior building façade and appurtenances.”
Himmel and Meringoff Properties, the owners, paid the fine, but apparently still neglected to correct the safety issue and, as a result of their careless and negligent actions, Tishman tragically lost her life.
At the time of the accident, the original violation was still active, suggesting the owner never corrected it. Investigators are working to find the source of the debris which will determine if it’s the same issue they were cited for over a year ago, according to NBC News.
Until the area between Sixth and Seventh Avenues are deemed safe by engineers, this section of 49th Street will remain closed. Crews were still putting up scaffolding around the building late Tuesday night.
Himmel and Meringoff Properties told the media they’ll fully cooperate with authorities during the investigation.
Sadly, this and other like accidents are not uncommon. Unfortunately, many New York real estate owners maintain a philosophy of profits over safety. This mindset likely delayed the critical and needed repairs at the 729 Seventh Avenue building. It's this type of conduct that puts us all at risk each and every day.
Raphaelson and Levine are familiar with this exact scenario having handled many litigations involving falling facades, brickwork, tools, and parapet walls.
In one matter, a Bronx landlord was specifically warned, much like the building owner at 729 Seventh Avenue. Officials cautioned him that a parapet wall, one that extended high above the sidewalk, was in danger of falling. He also chose to ignore the warning, and the inevitable became a reality. The parapet wall came crashing down onto the sidewalk, landing on a young boy who tragically lost his leg. Another example of a preventable event that occurred simply because of a landlord’s neglect and apathetic reaction to warnings this would occur. Raphaelson and Levine vigorously represented the boy and his family in a lawsuit seeking justice and compensation. Our office reached a resolution that would provide him in excess of $40 million during his lifetime.
In another similar matter, we represented a person struck by falling construction material that was being used during a façade renovation. Our client was struck in the head by an unsecured hammer that dropped from nearly 20 stories above into a schoolyard. In yet another matter, long-neglected crumbling bricks came slamming through a sidewalk shed intended to protect pedestrians.
"At Raphaelson & Levine, we strongly believe property owners should be held accountable for buildings they don’t properly maintain. If you, or a loved one, have been impacted by any kind of debris fall from a building, you deserve justice for the injury, damages, loss of income, and/or emotional trauma you’ve suffered." — Howard Raphaelson, NYC Personal Injury Lawyer at Raphaelson & Levine
The attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine offer compassionate and knowledgeable representation for premises liability. We’ll actively work to hold property owners accountable for their negligence. To learn more about motor vehicle accident results or to receive a free legal consultation, please call us at 212-268-3222.