Fox Rothschild Wins Significant Verdict in Lawsuit for Collapse of Historic Home

October 2, 2007

Philadelphia, PA – Nearly two years ago, Bob Harvey lost his historic home — a home that had once served as a Civil War hospital and housed a Mayor of Philadelphia. He didn't sell it and there was no fire. His home was destroyed by the reckless construction practices of the contractor hired to underpin Mr. Harvey's home in preparation for work adjacent to the home.

1910 Spring Garden, Philadelphia, PA "The city of Philadelphia lost a historic landmark on September 13, 2005 — and my client lost his home," said Ronald L. Williams, co-chair of Fox Rothschild LLP's Construction Practice and lead counsel for Mr. Harvey. Williams practices in Fox's Chester County office. "It was a devastating and totally unnecessary loss. Had the contractor hired to underpin Mr. Harvey's home acted responsibly, the house would be standing today."

For two years, Mr. Harvey paid taxes on an empty lot while defense counsel unnecessarily prolonged the case.

But on September 6, 2007, after two weeks of testimony and other evidence, a Philadelphia jury rendered a verdict in Mr. Harvey's favor in the amount of $4 million in compensatory damages. In addition, the jury awarded $1.75 million in punitive damages in favor of Mr. Harvey against the contractor hired to underpin his home.

"The punitive damage verdict should send a message to the underpinning contractor and to all contractors working in Philadelphia who engage in reckless construction practices," said Williams.

"Nothing can bring back my home or restore its historic significance," said Harvey. "I'm just glad the contractor, and anyone engaging in practices that could potentially destroy homes, injure families or take lives, has been given a ‘heads-up' that we won't stand for such tactics."

Williams was assisted in preparing for and conducting the trial by Fox associates Samuel Cortes and Stephanie Nolan Deviney. Together, the team was able to effectively argue against defense points, and pursue questioning and cross examination in court that assisted in reaching the positive verdict for Harvey.

"The jury made a great decision — and as a result, the people of Philadelphia and their property are safer," said Williams. "We're very pleased we were able to help our client obtain this result."