Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.
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The Importance of Rigorous Building Inspections: Insights from our NYC Building Collapse Attorneys

DOB NYCAs building collapse attorneys based in New York City, we are deeply concerned about the recent findings concerning the parking garage collapse in Lower Manhattan. More than a year has passed since this tragic event, and the root cause remains undetermined, highlighting significant gaps in our city’s approach to building safety and regulation.

The recent declaration by the Department of Buildings (DOB) that the Ann Street parking garage did not fail due to overloading is a critical piece of information. It suggests that other factors, possibly related to the structural integrity of the building itself, might have led to the collapse. Notably, University of Arizona engineering professor Sammy Tin speculated that the garage’s condition at the time of collapse might have been a contributing factor, despite the walls and pillars appearing pristine and undamaged.

It’s alarming to learn that prior to the collapse, there were open violations dating back to 2003 and 2009 for issues such as loose or missing concrete. These findings were brought to light almost immediately after the collapse by investigative journalists. This raises significant concerns about the enforcement of building codes and the efficacy of the inspections process in New York City.

Legislative and Regulatory Reform

The need for reform is evident and urgent. During the recent city council hearings, Commissioner James Oddo acknowledged the necessity for “additional sticks” in the regulatory framework, suggesting that mere violation notices are insufficient to ensure compliance. Proposals for new laws that would allow the city to place liens on properties with unresolved violations and unpaid penalties are steps in the right direction.

Furthermore, the council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings is actively considering several bills that would enhance building inspections and introduce stricter weight limits, among other safety measures. These proposed bills, including one by Council Member Pierina Sanchez following a partial building collapse in the Bronx, aim to increase penalties for landlords who neglect necessary repairs and ensure a more stringent inspections regime.

The Human Cost of Inaction

The personal stories emerging from these incidents, like that of Juan Ricart, whose home and possessions were destroyed in the Bronx collapse, remind us of the human cost of failing to maintain our built environment. These are not just structural failures; they are profound disruptions to people’s lives, often with irreversible consequences.

As attorneys specializing in building collapses, we advocate for a proactive approach to building safety. This involves not only passing and enforcing new legislation but also ensuring that existing laws are rigorously applied. Building owners, landlords, and the relevant city agencies must be held accountable for their roles in maintaining safe structures.