National News

Harrisburg tire shop owner sues neighbors, contractors over damages incurred from 2016 wall collapse

Posted June 12

— The owner of a tire shop destroyed by a wall collapse last year has filed a civil lawsuit against the owners of the neighboring apartment and two contractors seeking restitution for damages.

The roof of Howard Tire and Auto was destroyed on May 5, 2016, when the wall next to the business collapsed, bringing a portion of the parking lot that sat atop it and an unoccupied car crashing down on the roof of the business.

Howard Henry, owner of the tire shop, later closed the business and laid off 12 employees out of safety concerns.

The owners of the apartment have claimed they don't own the 107-year-old wall, but a professional survey at Henry's request identified them as the owners.

Henry and his wife filed their suit last month in the Court of Common Pleas. They seek reimbursement for damages and costs from four defendants. The suit also seeks to force the owners of McFarland Apartments to clean up the tons of debris that are still on the site more than a year after the accident.

The suit claims McFarland LLP and its parent company, Primavera Properties, failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the retaining wall and parking lot were structurally sound when they bought the apartments in 2012 and in the years after the purchase. The suit also alleges the owners failed to inspect the wall for dangerous conditions or perform proper repairs and maintenance, even when the wall "showed obvious signs of deterioration and cracking before the collapse."

In addition, the suit blames McFarland LLP and its parent company for additional damage to the tire shop after a second collapse in June 2016 because of their "failure to act" after the first collapse.

The owners also have refused to remove the debris that is "trespassing" in Henry's property and failed to stop storm water runoff from the debris from entering Henry's property, according to the lawsuit. The "inaction deprives plaintiffs of the use of their property."

The lawsuit also claims Neshaminy Constructors Inc., the subcontractor hired by PennDOT to remove a damaged overhang from the wall six months before the collapse, failed to adequately inspect the wall for hazardous conditions before starting the project and used jackhammers and other equipment that further weakened the retaining wall.

The fourth defendant is TRC Companies, which was hired by PennDOT as construction manager for the Mulberry Street bridge rehabilitation project.

The company allegedly failed "to realize and appreciate that the contractors were working in close proximity to a deteriorated and structurally unsound retaining wall that would be adversely impacted by the construction activities."

The company also allegedly allowed the use of jackhammers and failed to report dangerous conditions, according to the lawsuit.

The Henrys have asked for a jury trial.

The lawsuit comes after months of unsuccessful efforts by the city to jumpstart the cleanup through city codes violations and a condemnation order against McFarland's owners. The condemnation and codes violations are still playing out in court while the McFarland owners seek their own survey to determine ownership of the wall.

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