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Attorney offers new perspective on legal action taken in York firefighter deaths

YORK, Pa. — It’s been nearly a month since a building collapse killed two York City firefighters.

Two federal agencies are investigating, while the loved ones of the two firefighters who died in the line of duty are taking legal action.

A York engineering firm with no apparent connection to the collapsed Weaver building recently was put on notice that it was named as a defendant in a pending lawsuit.

Steve Stambaugh is an attorney with a past connection to the building. He also has a unique perspective and a few thoughts on why family members might have filed a writ of summons.

“My father actually owned that building. It was Stambaugh’s Used Auto Parts for several years, and I actually worked in that building for several years,” Stambaugh said.

The Weaver Piano and Organ Factory had been home to many different businesses before it was in the process of being converted to loft apartments, and then destroyed by fire.

“It was a used car place when my dad had it, so it’s gone through many commercial lives, but never a residential life. So, therefore I don’t think it’s getting grandfathered in which means it has to come up to current code,” Stambaugh said.

FOX 43 News obtained permits for work conducted on the Weaver building before the late-March fire and deadly collapse.

Permits list the building’s contractors for alterations and repairs, electrical work, plumbing, and mechanical but one name not seen on the permits is C.S. Davidson.

FOX 43 News asked Stambaugh his thoughts on why would the firefighters loved ones name an engineering firm used by the city, as a defendant in this legal filing.

“When I saw the writ, to me that meant one thing and one thing only. The only way you can stop the city from leveling what’s left of that building, and destroying all of the evidence is a court order that they can not do that. And they only way you’re going to get that is to have a writ filed,” Stambaugh said.

As someone familiar with the interior of the Weaver building, and as an attorney, Stambaugh has more questions about the collapse of the building than the fire that may have caused it.

“Questions about the structural integrity of the building, the design, and what kind of changes or retrofit was required by the city, as part of the reconstruction,” Stambaugh said.

One thing FOX 43 News was unable to obtain are the building’s inspection reports.

According to the Uniform Construction Code, building inspection reports are confidential, and therefore not public record. However, the documents could turn up in court.

“The writ will not only preserve access to the property for forensic examination, but nobody is going to be able to not produce relevant documents, including inspection reports,” Stambaugh said.

With this wrongful death filing, plaintiffs could request more than $50,000 for each firefighter killed. Stambaugh noted it’s not always about the money.

“A lot of times it’s just about getting an explanation, so you can understand what happened, so I hope they get the answers they’re looking for, and to the extent that somebody was negligent, that I would hope that they get the compensation they deserve,” Stambaugh said.