Lichtenstein Update: Civil Cases Stayed and City Law Department Fucks Up

Ruth Lichtenstein, publisher of Hamodia and wife of Michael Lichtenstein, owner of the Thomas Buck Hosiery Factory which burned to the ground

I’ve been remiss to bring you an update on the Kensington fire.

Recall back in April of this year, a massive 5 story complex the size of a city block went up in smoke.   Several months prior to that, myself and other residents near the factory complex had complained of L&I (Phila. Department of Licenses & Inspections) violations at the Thomas Buck Hosiery Factory.   L&I made trips to the site, sent out NOVs (Notice of Violations), and without warning, the whole complex went up in flames.

The chief reason?   The perimeter of the complex was not sealed, so it was easy for vagrants and vandals to enter and exit.  The Lichtensteins had been warned about the complex repeatedly.  They also received email complaints through their then-attorney who was handling their affairs.

Two Philadelphia firefighters, Lt. Robert Neary and FF Daniel Sweeney perished when a section of wall collapsed while the fully-engulfed complex was being extinguished.

The families of the fallen firefighters brought multiple civil cases before the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas against the Lichtensteins, but movement in those cases has been suspended by the court pending the outcome of the grand jury investigation into the factory fire.

While reviewing the civil case documents, one very interesting item of interest is that the Lichtensteins very fiercely objected to a subpoena to interrogate and obtain documents from Darrell Zaslow, who represented York Street Property Development, one of the entities the Lichtensteins set up to own the factory which burned.   Cozen O’Connor, the firm representing the Lichtensteins in the factory fire, cited the angry language coming from City officials as the reason why the civil cases should be suspended until the outcome of the criminal proceedings is reached and attached several news articles citing officials’ comments.    Judge Tereshko granted the motion to stay and all the civil cases are now on hold.

Meanwhile over in Municipal Court, the original L&I violations that were raised by neighborhood complaints against the factory complex have been stayed pending the criminal case.   The L&I violation case in Muni Court would have otherwise been ignored by the Lichtensteins, but since whatever evidence is submitted in Muni Court to defend that case can be sucked right into the criminal case, the Lichtensteins made certain to send their lawyer to put the breaks on.

But what really torques my jaw?   This L&I case against the Lichtensteins was dropped on the floor.  Take a look:

5217 Rodman Street is a slum house that the Lichtensteins own. This case was dismissed because of faulty process service.

I just want to pull my hair out over this.   Surely we all know where the Lichtensteins live now in Brooklyn, right?   This is one of the most infamous recent cases of a bad property owner, right?   So… Muni Cases involving the York Street property are vigorously defended by the Lichtensteins, but the Lichtensteins continue to ignore the other shit on them against their other properties, and the City Solicitor’s office had two months to correct the service problem here and it failed.   Case dismissed.

Don’t blame L&I on this one, folks.  This is a failure of the City of Philadelphia Law Department.


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