Allison Friedman was shopping for a gift for her friend a year ago Wednesday at the Lululemon Athletica store on Walnut Street when a pile of bricks toppled on her head from above.
Before she knew it, she was crushed beneath rubble.
Friedman, along with her lawyers, filed suit against the building adjacent the Lululemon store Tuesday, claiming negligence and losses suffered so great, she’ll never return to normalcy, she claims.
Friedman and her husband, Larry, are co-plaintiffs in the civil suit against Pearl Properties, at 1425 Walnut St., the six-story building whose bricks tumbled into the roof of Lululemon on Jan. 27, 2015, crushing her and several others inside the store. The Friedmans are seeking a jury trial in the suit against Pearl Properties. The suit does not specity the damages sought, except for a "more than $50,000" notation on the cover sheet.
They said they have no gripe with Lululemon, who they do not hold responsible in the accident.
“I felt I was losing my life that day,” Friedman said Tuesday.
“I felt I was dying right then and there.”
On Wednesday, the day of the first anniversary of the Lululemon building collapse, Friedman will undergo spinal fusion surgery. Doctors have told her attorneys she’ll remain in the hospital throughout the rest of the week and into Friday, her 29th birthday.
“It’s really sad. My birthday last year was sitting on the couch in pain. This year I’ll be in the hospital in pain,” she told Metro, choking back tears.
Friedman’s lawyer, Bob Mongeluzzi, said that when a roof collapses and crushes somebody, much like it did in the infamous 2013 Salvation Army building collapse, it erodes a sense of trust people have in the world.
“Disaster can come from anywhere, and that’s hard when your sense of trust is destroyed, to be able to get it back,” he said.
“Properly maintained and inspected buildings do not collapse,” he went on to say.
“This collapse a year ago changed the lives of these two young people forever. This is, yet, another building collapse in Philadelphia where the victims will feel that collapse throughout the rest of their lives. A commercial landlord in Philadelphia has a legal and moral responsibility to inspect and maintain their properties so they don’t collapse onto their neighbors. That didn’t occur here.”
“Physically and mentally, it’s been incredibly difficult,” said a tearful Friedman, who has already undergone rotator cuff surgery and spends four days a week in physical therapy.
She said she did not purposefully choose Wednesday’s date to have her spinal fusion surgery, but that doctors had to push back an earlier date. It adds irony to insult to injury, she said.
“I’ll be in the hospital for about five days. I’ll have to wear a brace for about three months, then start the rehab process all over again. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to run again.”
Her husband, Larry, held her hand as he sat beside her Tuesday.
“We had plans of buying a house and starting a family. Now, that’s all been derailed,” he said.
The defendant, Pearl Properties, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.