Criminal Demolition

Representation: Liquidation Firm

Criminal Citation – Monroeville

Situation: Joseph Bernstein had been the bankruptcy trustee for the Holiday House, a suburban Pittsburgh dining and entertainment complex. In those proceedings, the building and land had been sold. A liquidation firm was employed by the purchaser of the Holiday House to liquidate certain property within the building before its demolition. While the liquidator removed items from inside the building, other parties involved in the demolition removed doors, windows and other sections, leaving holes in the outside of the structure. The municipality responded to the structural damage by serving criminal citations on everyone on the demolition site.

The liquidator, among the parties cited, retained Bernstein and Bernstein, P.C. as its counsel. Eight citations, each carrying a fine of $300, justified the dispute.

Action: During a trial the municipality was criticized for misconstruing its own building code, inaccurately identifying elements qualifying as a “demolition” within their building code, and citing the wrong party. After trial, the magistrate found for the client and the charges were dismissed.