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July 01, 2024

Family of construction worker killed on the job in Fitler Square awarded $68.5 million

Siarhei Marhunou died after he fell from a balcony at 2330 Sansom St. in 2021. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming OCF Construction and others had been negligent.

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Fitler Square Fall Google Maps/Street View

Siarhei Marhunou, 38, was working a luxury townhouse project at 2330 Sansom St., above, when he fell to his death from a fifth-floor balcony in December 2021. A jury awarded his family $68.5 million following a civil trial.

The family of a Philadelphia construction worker who fell to his death in Fitler Square has been awarded $68.5 million as part of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against several companies affiliated with developer Ori Feibush.

Siarhei Marhunou, 38, fell about 50 feet from a fifth-floor balcony in December 2021 when a temporary wooden railing gave way as he was installing siding on a luxury townhouse project at 2330 Sansom St. A jury awarded the payment to Marhunou's widow and the couple's 3-year-old son following a four-day trial in the Court of Common Pleas.

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The lawsuit named OCF Construction, Fitler Construction Group, 2330 Sansom St. – all with ties to Feibush – and subcontractors HSC Construction and Hammers Construction as defendants. The suit claimed Marhunou's death was the result of carelessness, negligence and recklessness.

The Marhunou family's attorneys claimed that OCF Construction was the project's general contractor, and that Marhunou had been working for a subcontractor, DPSY, that was not named in the suit. 

The family's attorneys claimed the job site had incurred numerous Occupational Safety and Health Administration construction safety violations, and that the railing had been defectively installed. Marhunou also was not wearing a personal fall-arrest system when he fell. 

"Management of this construction project was a labyrinth of corporate structure designed to protect the developers," said attorneys Jeffrey P. Goodman and Aidan Carickhoff, of the Philadelphia law firm Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky. "Instead, construction projects need to be set up to protect workers. The jury saw through OCF's shell games."

Attorneys for OCF Construction claimed the company was not the general contractor or construction manager, saying that it was instead Fitler Construction Group. 

The jury determined that OCF Construction was 50% at fault in the incident, with Filter Construction and 2330 Sansom St. each 20% at fault. The final 10% was split between the subcontractors HSC Construction and Hammers Construction.

Several defendants, including two companies affiliated with Feibush, settled with the family ahead of the trial. 

"While nothing can make the family whole, I am hopeful the verdict, in addition to the previous settlements will allow the family to begin to rebuild their lives," Feibush said in a statement to the Inquirer