Volume 49, Issue 5 - May 2014

Legislation&Legal

Widow to Sue Sandwich Shop Architects for Alleged Negligent Glass Design

The widow of the Slippery Rock, Pa., man who died last summer after slipping and falling head-first through a glass door at a local sandwich shop has turned her legal efforts to those she believes responsible for the building’s alleged negligent design. In what is the latest twist to a wrongful death suit that could have lasting implications throughout the entire glass industry, Cynthia Brunken named both Ligo Architects, a local architectural firm, and the Slippery Rock Commons Commercial Mall in a precipice filed at the Butler County Courthouse. The legal document is a harbinger of an impending lawsuit, according to courthouse officials.

Efforts to reach Lee Ligo or his brother, Brett Ligo, at their Slippery Rock office were unsuccessful.

Glen Brunken was on his way to lunch on June 13, 2013, when he tripped and fell head-first through a glass door at Bob’s Sub and Sandwich Shop in the Slippery Rock Commons Mall area, suffering severe lacerations, according to court documents. First responders arrived quickly and began life-saving measures in the hopes of slowing the profuse bleeding, but the 69-year-old former university professor soon succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital.

"The case could hinge on whether the annealed glass in question complied with CFR 1201 ..."

Cynthia Brunken originally filed a wrongful death suit against Cindy Marlowe, the sandwich shop owner as well as the shop last fall. Brunken, who is seeking unspecified punitive damages in that original complaint, alleged in court documents that the annealed glass at the front of the shop “constitutes a well-known safety hazard when broken because such glass can break into large, sharp and unreasonably dangerous jagged shards if impacted” and was culpable in her husband’s tragic death.

Cynthia Brunken further alleges in the original complaint that Marlowe knew the glass doors were unsafe, and, “despite owning and operating the restaurant and premises for decades … never even attempted to make the plate glass entrance door even marginally safer, such as through the application of widely available safety films that are applied to glass and cost only a few dollars per square foot of coverage.”

Neither Marlowe nor her Pittsburgh-based attorney, David M. Moran, could be reached for comment at press time.

Cynthia Brunken alleges in court papers that the entire tragedy could have been avoided had the glass entrance door conformed to safety standards or contained adequate protections.

“Despite the known and obvious risks involved with the use of plate glass or annealed glass entrance doors, the glass entrance door used at the Bob’s Sub and Sandwich Shop restaurant on June 3, 2013, contained dangerous plate glass or annealed glass, and did not incorporate adequate or safer glazing material, rendering the glass door unreasonably dangerous to customers, business invitees and specifically, Glen W. Brunken,” according to the complaint.

The case could hinge on whether the annealed glass in question complied with CFR 1201, the ruling put in place in 1977 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission with public safety in mind. It is not known when the annealed glass that killed Brunken was originally installed and whether or not it was before the advent of 16 CFR 1201 and therefore exempt from federal code or whether it was replacement glass. If it were replacement glass that had been installed after 1977, it should have been code-compliant.

Keraglass Files Proceeding with Creditors
Keraglass, the Italian machinery manufacturer, “entered into a proceeding [arrangement with its creditors].”

The company told vendors that it is re-organizing, and will not be paying their bills directly as the courts are now involved. A Keraglass Industries S.r.l. spokesperson, Orietta Gualtieri, within the sales department told USGlass magazine that a new company, called Euros Meccanica, has been formed by the previous owners of Keraglass plus at least one new investor, the name of which was unavailable at press time.

According to an Italian news source, Telereggio, the company “was affected by the crisis phase and credit difficulties.” According to a loose translation of the article, company president Stephen Spezzani asked for four months for submission of the proposal proceedings.

When contacted by USGlass magazine, Gualtieri said it was too soon to comment. Greensboro, N.C.-based Matodi USA is the agent for Keraglass. Jack Van Meerbeeck, president of Matodi USA, said he had no additional information at this time.

Court Denies Dlubak’s Motion to Convert
Following hearings held on April 4, 2014, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania entered an Order denying Frank Dlubak’s Motion to Convert from a Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. In conjunction, the Court also entered an Order allowing the Committee to file an amended Disclosure Statement within by May 4.

In addition, the court granted a Motion for Authority to Prosecute Avoidance Action filed by the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Dlubak Corp. According to court documents, “the motion is granted … as the committee has demonstrated sufficient grounds for derivative standing based on colorable claims against Dlubak Glass Co., Frank Dlubak, Dlubak Powder Coating, Global Ceramic Services Inc., and Greenheat LP (collectively the ‘Parties’), based on the Debtor’s unwillingness to pursue such claims in light of the insider status of the Parties, and based on the potential benefit to the Debtor’s Estate of pursuing such claims.”

Court documents note that “the Committee is authorized to file adversary proceedings against the Parties in pursuit of any/all claims under Chapter 5 of the Bankruptcy Code.”

In the months since Dlubak’s initial Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing made last summer, the company’s assets were sold off in two separate transactions. The company first sold its non-real estate assets to Grey Mountain Partners, agreeing to do so shortly after it filed for Chapter 11 protection. This past February, the court approved the sale of the company’s real estate assets, specifically its operating facility, to KMS Property Acquisition Co., for $800,000. That sale closed on March 6.





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