Trio of lawsuits filed against parking garage in lethal lower Manhattan collapse
NEW YORK — The Lower Manhattan parking garage where an employee died in a catastrophic collapse this month faces a trio of lawsuits over the lethal incident, including legal action from two survivors and a class action filing seeking $100 million.
Garage worker Pierre Vancol, 55, “was severely injured, bruised and wounded, suffered, still suffers and will continue to suffer for some time physical pain and bodily injuries,” said his Brooklyn Supreme Court filing.
Vancol recounted to The New York Daily News how he survived a deadly 2010 earthquake in his native Haiti before escaping from the falling concrete and running for his life after the building started shaking.
The Brooklyn resident has yet to return to work after fleeing the building just before the garage collapsed, court papers said. He was treated for injuries at New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital.
A Manhattan class action suit sought compensation for the destruction of parked cars at the facility and the loss of personal items left inside, with owner Robert Galpern reporting the loss of a customized $60,000 Toyota Highlander, said his lawyer, Migir Ilganayev.
“The plaintiffs assert that the defendants breached their duty of care to ensure the safety of the parking garage structure, resulting in the tragic collapse and destruction, causing plaintiff substantial and ongoing financial losses and inconvenience,” according to court papers.
The second plaintiff, neighborhood building superintendent Boguslaw Zapolnick, was left without his new $40,000 Mazda, the attorney added.
“There’s no information on the cars, not even whether they are still there or not,” said the attorney. “We have no clue about what’s going on.”
And a filing in Bronx Supreme Court on behalf of plaintiff Luis Farfan said the victim suffered “serious injuries ... pain, shock, mental anguish ... These injuries and their effect will be permanent.”
His court papers charged the collapse was caused by “the negligence” of ownership, adding Farfan remained unable to “perform (his) normal activities and duties.”
The court documents, filed in the days following the April 18 tragedy where the four-story structure imploded within a matter of minutes, named Little Man Parking LLC and 57 Ann Street Realty as defendants.
A spokesman for the defendant Little Man Parking said the company would have no comment on the court filings.
The top floors of the structure crumbled quickly as firefighters rushed to the scene and plucked one stranded survivor from the roof. The lot’s manager Willis Moore, 59, of Queens, was the lone fatality in the tragedy where six others were injured.
The victim left behind a wife and two sons.
“I think it was shaking one or two minutes,” recalled Vancol, a Flatbush resident. “We just ran to save our lives. I was getting a ticket for a customer. I had to move away. I feel like something is going to happen.”