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 now turned her sights 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 ripples throughout the entire glass industry, Cynthia Brunken named Ligo Architects, a local architectural firm, and the Slippery Rock Commons commercial mall area where the sandwich shop is located in a precipice recently filed at the Butler County Courthouse. The legal document is a harbinger of an impending lawsuit, according to courthouse officials.
Efforts to reach either 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, suffering severe lacerations, according to court documents. First responders quickly arrived and began life-saving measures in the hopes of slowing the profuse bleeding, but the 69-year-old former Slippery Rock University professor soon succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital.
Cynthia Brunken, who could not be reached for comment, originally filed a wrongful death suit against the sandwich shop and its owner, Cindy Marlowe last fall. Brunken, who is seeking unspecified punitive damages in that original complaint, has 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.
“Upon contacting the glass entrance doors, one of the panes of glass broke in such a way that it created large, sharp, and unreasonably dangerous jagged shards of glass that caused severe and serious lacerations and trauma to Mr. Brunken’s neck, face, head and body,” the complaint says.
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.”
At this time information is not available as to who is representing Cynthia Brunken because plaintiff attorneys are not required to file paperwork with the courthouse available for public consumption, according to courthouse officials.
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 plate 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.
Glass experts, however, say they need to hear more details first before reaching any conclusions.
The case could hinge on whether the annealed glass in question complied with CFR 1201, the ruling devised in 1977 by the Consumer Product Safety 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.
Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for more updates as they are made available.