Widow of Philadelphia construction worker awarded $68m in compensation

Illustration by Denis Carrier
A jury in Philadelphia has ordered that the widow of a construction worker should receive compensation of $68.5m after it found his death was due to negligence.

Siarhei Marhunou, 38, fell 15m from an unsecured fifth-floor balcony in 2021 while working on a townhouse in Fitler Square, in the centre of the city.

The order was made after a four-day hearing at the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. Marhunou’s widow had brought legal actions against OCF Construction, Fitler Construction Group and 2330 Sansom Street, all of which are affiliated with local developer Ori Feibush.

Marhunou died in December 2021 after falling through a temporary wooden railing that, it was claimed, had not met OSHA-mandated fall protection standards. 

OCF Construction was the general contractor on the five-unit townhouse development, which was being built at 2330 Sansom Street.

A statement from Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky, a personal injury law firm, said: “Worker safety can never come second to profits. The evidence in this case showed OCF cut corners on this project at every turn, and it had tragic consequences.

“Management of this construction project was a labyrinth of corporate structures designed to protect the developers. Instead, construction projects need to be set up to protect workers. The jury saw through OCF’s shell games.”

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