The widow of a firefighter killed in last year’s Kensington factory fire has sued the building’s owners for wrongful death and negligence, saying they ignored dangerous conditions that led to the inferno that left two firefighters dead.
Diane Neary said the owners knew that “over 60 vandals, vagrants, drug dealers, prostitutes, looters and other individuals” were illegally living in the old Thomas Buck hosiery factory at York and Jasper streets but did nothing to oust them, according to the lawsuit first filed Sept. 26 in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. Fire broke out in the blighted building on April 9, 2012, and fire Lt. Robert Neary and Daniel Sweeney died when a warehouse wall collapsed on them as they battled the flames.
Named in the 35-page complaint are Yechial Lichtenstein and Nahman Lichtenstein of Brooklyn, Toby Moskovits of Manhattan, and their companies, York Street Property Development, Heritage Equity Partners and YML Realty Inc.
At the time of the fire, the Lichtensteins and Moskovits were known as “New Yorkers who collect and neglect,” because they owned 31 properties in Philadelphia, 24 of which were tax-delinquent, according to Neary’s lawsuit. Besides owing more than $400,000 in back taxes and penalties, the trio also had racked up more than $10,000 in unpaid water bills for their properties, the lawsuit charges.