In 2003, freezing temperatures combined with snow paralyzed the city of Philadelphia. In the Wynnefield section of the city, a water main broke and the water filled a small street making the street virtually impassable. The residents complained to the city and to the Philadelphia Water Department about the running water and the dangerous condition presented by the ice-impacted street. One night, a fire broke out on that street and, because of the icy conditions, firefighters could not move their equipment down the street to extinguish the blaze.
An elderly man and his son were living in the house that caught on fire. The son, though badly burned, was able to make his way to safety. However, the elderly man was overcome by smoke and unable to make it through the front door. His body was later found at the bottom of the steps.
Family members were devastated at the death of their father and the harm to their brother and quickly turned to Lundy Law. We immediately investigated the cause of the blaze and the circumstances surrounding the fact that the fire department was prevented from entering the street by the icy conditions. We promptly filed suit and, in conjunction with experts, took testimony and uncovered facts that established clear and substantial evidence that the city ignored repeated notices from residents about the icy conditions.
After securing videotapes of the icy conditions, the actual fire, and the hampered rescue efforts, it soon became clear that the city and the Philadelphia Water Department were at fault for failing to respond to the residents’ notices. We alleged that their failure resulted in the burns suffered by the son and were the cause of the wrongful death of his father. The city fought back, trying to blame an “act of nature,” cold weather, and snow as the cause of the personal injuries and wrongful death.
In November 2006, shortly before a trial was scheduled to commence, the City of Philadelphia agreed to a confidential settlement awarding the burn victim and the family of the deceased father slightly less than the maximum amount allowable under the law.
While no amount of money could ever bring back their father, the family was able to redeem their father’s death and secure the futures of his children and grandchildren.