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Union Sq. Board, Management, & Penthouse Owner Sued for Falling Furniture Pedestrian Seriously Injured, Claims Negligence

Several outlets, including NBC News, CBS News, and the New York Post, report that a 24-year-old woman who was struck by a falling lounge chair on January 25 while crossing the street near Union Square in Manhattan is suing several parties with leasehold interests in the penthouse apartment from which the furniture fell. 

According to court papers, Annabel Sen, a Brown University graduate who worked in finance and planned to start a Masters program at Harvard Medical School this fall was on her way to lunch with her boyfriend when the wooden lounge chair blew off the 12th floor terrace at 15 Union Square West Condominium and struck her in the head. She was rushed to the emergency room where she underwent emergency brain surgery - the first of three such procedures to address her traumatic injuries. 

The penthouse is owned by GR Realty Holdings LLC, which in turn is controlled by billionaire Michael Rubin, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils. At the time of the incident it was being rented to Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, co-founders of a startup valued at $2.6 billion in 2019, according to court papers. Rubin did not live at the penthouse, according to a spokesperson.

Sen is suing Rubin, Dubugras, and Franceschi, along with Brown Harris Stevens Residential Management, LLC, which manages the condominium building, and the 15 Union Square West Condominium board itself.

Benedict Morelli, the attorney representing Sen, alleges that the parties were negligent in allowing the furniture to remain outside and unsecured on a stormy day. “There was really no reason for this to happen,” he told the New York Post. “You either bring the furniture in—especially if you’re not going to be there for a long time—or you tie it down. There are a number of people who could and should have done that.” 

The history of 15 Union Square West includes another tragic accident involving a falling projectile. A 2006 New York Times profile of the building—originally built for Tiffany & Co. in 1870—recounts an incident from July 15, 1952, when salesman Moses Weickselbaum was hit by a piece of iron that had come loose from the building’s facade. That tragedy ended in fatality when Weickselbaum died from his injuries the following year. 

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