Displaced Residents Argue Construction Co. Responsible for Fire Losses

In August 2009, a massive fire at a Conshohocken, Pa., apartment complex drove more than 200 people out of their homes. The displaced residents allege that negligence on the part of workers employed by Cavan Construction, as well as others with roles in the construction, management and development of the complex, contributed to their uncompensated losses.

The eight-alarm fire began with the alleged unsafe and improper use by a Cavan Construction welder of a volatile, 3,500-degree oxyacetylene torch used to cut a steel balcony away from a dry, mostly wooden building in the complex.

"We are lucky to be alive, but life since the fire last August has been hell,” said Dr. Irwin Becker. He and his wife escaped the fire but claim they are still “living like gypsies” and suffering from uncompensated losses a year later. “You can't go a day without remembering what was lost, especially the family keepsakes, and recall those responsible saying they were sorry and would make us whole for our losses. In our case, time hasn't healed our wounds."

Becker and his wife, Marci, are among the former residents in a class action complaint (08-23265, Montgomery County, PA Court of Common Pleas) that is pending in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.

"The Beckers and the other victims are shocked that they continue to feel the pain of deep losses one year after the accident, and that Cavan, which started the fire, hasn't offered a single penny to right their wrong," said Robert J. Mongeluzzi, Esq., of Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky PC. "There isn't one shred of evidence to contradict the finding that Cavan's welders were responsible for starting this fire, and yet the victims continue to be burned by the company's indifference."

Mongeluzzi said the official investigation reports concluded that the reckless handling of a welder's torch by Cavan's workers initially started the inferno and set off a combustible chain reaction at the neighboring apartment buildings. The gutted building is being rebuilt by the same developer – O'Neill Properties – but under a new name and reportedly with enhanced fire-safety features.

Cavan Construction is based in Aston, Pa. Other defendants named in the complaint are O'Neill Properties Group; Merion Construction, Inc.; Lynch2 Inc. construction managers; and Bozutto Construction.

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