Stanislaw Supinski, 52, died after he and another worker were buried under a pile of brick and masonry rubble at 60 Norfolk Street, the site of a burned-out historic synagogue.
Two years prior to the incident, the synagogue, which once housed Beth Hamedrash Hagodol, the oldest Orthodox Jewish congregation in New York City, was badly burned in a fire.
“The remaining walls should have been prevented from collapsing,” said Slawomir Platta of The Platta Law Firm, which was retained by Supinski’s family. “In our opinion, this wasn’t done.”
After the fire, plans were made to convert the site into a mixed-use building with 500 apartments and a new synagogue.
Supinski and the other worker were there that day to conduct asbestos abatement, but the movement that the excavation created caused the wall to collapse on them.
Supinski, a Polish immigrant, was unconscious after the incident. He was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Afterward, the city secured the remainder of the premises, including the remaining walls, but Platta said the owner and general contractor are at fault for not doing this earlier.
“Sending people to work in this condition is irresponsible and negligent,” he said. “He should never have been allowed to work there.”
Supinski’s family, some of which are still in Poland, and a girlfriend of 20 years are currently filing the necessary paperwork to sue the developer for damages.
“The developer put profits above human life,” he added. “This was reckless on so many levels.”