A legal drama may be on the horizon for the former Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue.
The family of Stanislaw Supinski, the worker who was fatally crushed by a wall collapse Monday at the Lower East Side site, have retained a law firm and are planning to sue the property’s owner and the general contractor conducting work on the ruins of the historic house of worship, their attorney said.
A masonry wall at the fire-ravaged remnants of the synagogue toppled on to two workers Monday, killing Supinski and injuring one other at 60 Norfolk Street, according to fire department officials. The Platta Law Firm, which is representing Supinski’s family, argues that work did not follow certain state safety regulations and is mulling a lawsuit.
“In the wake of such tragedies, the first priority is to be there for a grieving family and ask if such a horrendous circumstance could have been prevented,” said Slawomir W. Platta, the principal of The Platta Law Firm. “The State of New York has very specific regulations which are intended to keep workers safe. [On Monday,] the system failed the Supinski family. We will do our best to hold the wrongdoers responsible for this unnecessary tragic accident.”
The Platta Law Firm plans to file a workers compensation claim for the death benefits that Supinski’s family is entitled to, and aims to file “an additional lawsuit against the owner of the premises and general contractor for the pain and suffering including the fear of impending death that the deceased construction worker suffered,” according to Platta.
At the time of the collapse, workers were demolishing unstable portions of the synagogue’s remaining Gothic Revival-style building. The property has been beset with tragedy; in 2017 a three-alarm fire set by a suspected arsonist tore through the more than 160-year-old building. Much of the structure was razed after the fire, but parts of the site still stood. Architects hoped to salvage pieces and highlight those ruins in a new synagogue and cultural center on the site, and other neighboring lots, as part of a mixed-use, two-tower complex.
A full vacate order still exists on the property over structural concerns from the fire, but the Department of Buildings (DOB) issued permits to Titan Industrial SVC Corp. for “emergency stabilization work” to tear down unstable structures. Titan did not return calls for comment.
After the fatal accident, DOB allowed a crew to perform additional work to stabilize the property, according to DOB spokesperson Andrew Rudansky. That work dismantled the remaining tower with an arched window, and the once grand building is now a pile of rubble. The property is currently owned Beth Medrash Hagodol of New York Restoration, INC., according to city property records. The group was unable to immediately return a request for comment on the potential lawsuit.
Monday’s collapse will likely alter building plans for the new synagogue and heritage center. A spokesperson for the development team would not comment on if the accident is expected to cause project delays.