Lawsuit filed in deadly fire escape collapse

Relatives of a man killed and a woman seriously injured when a fire escape collapsed off a Center City apartment building two weeks ago have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming the landlord was negligent and caused the collapse by not repairing the deteriorating fourth-floor balcony.

Albert Suh, 22, died and Laura O’Brien, 24, suffered a broken back, a leg wound that required 60 stitches to close and other serious injuries in the Jan. 12 collapse of the fire escape balcony that was attached to their apartment on 22nd Street near St. James in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood.

The roommates plummeted about 43 feet to the ground; Suh died shortly after at Hahnemann University Hospital. O'Brien's back injury required surgery and the implantation of steel surgical rods and plates, according to the lawsuit. Another roommate also fell and suffered a broken back, but she’s not part of this lawsuit. The three were hosting a birthday party with friends and stepped out onto the fire escape when its iron rails collapsed and the platform broke away from the wall, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names landlord Alex Khorram and his company the Khorram Group of Newtown Square as defendants. Khorram couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“Obviously, this collapse should never have happened. This lawsuit is about finding out why it happened, fairly compensating the plaintiffs and preventing a repetition,” said attorney Shanin Specter, who filed the lawsuit today in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court on behalf of Suh’s family and O’Brien.

The steel structure was badly corroded and weakened because of poor maintenance and a lack of inspection, the lawsuit claims.

Suh was a recent Penn State University graduate who worked as a financial analyst at JP Morgan Chase & Co. O'Brien is a kindergarten teacher at the Grover Cleveland School in Tioga.

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