This is particularly the second such case for temple students. In 2013, 19-year-old temple freshman Ali Fausnaught fell to his death a few blocks from the most recent accident. The roof of this building only had a 10-inch edge, which appears grossly negligent when the area is open to guests. Even if it were limited to employees, a 10-inch edge would make accidents highly predictable.
In this case, Temple University student Arnav Johri is quoted as saying that the barrier is not high enough: “If you drink and hit it right away, it's really easy to slide off right away because it just falls a little on halfway between knee and hip. "
Assuming the description is correct, this could pose a variety of crime problems. First, assuming the building complies with local government regulations at the height of the barrier, compliance with those regulations does not make a company immune. Cases like Grand Trunk Railway Co., Canada v Ives, 144, US 408 (1892) have long proven that compliance with legal standards is not conclusive evidence of adequacy. While violating a law can be negligence per se, mere compliance is not a defense against negligence.
The question is whether such a low barrier is appropriate, especially when the roof is open to guests, let alone guests drinking and partying. In my view, such a barrier in a public area on a building would make a significant claim of negligence. There are a variety of ways in which people can be pushed over such a barrier or position themselves dangerously on or around the barrier.
If the area is closed to the public, effective intruder status may prevent restoration. However, even in such a case, intruder liability may exist if intruders are detected or expected.
Assuming negligence is found, a serious question of conduct remains for the plaintiffs. Under the old standard of contributory negligence, the two students would be completely excluded from reclaiming, as even one percent of the plaintiffs' fault would lead to such a ban. Most states are now comparative negligence courts following either pure or modified approaches. Pennsylvania (under the PA General Assembly Act, Section 7102) is a modified or partial comparative jurisdiction in which a plaintiff can be negligent and recover as long as she was less than 51 percent guilty. If it is found to be more than 50 percent to blame, it is completely banned. Please note, however, that your error rate below 51 percent will still be offset against your damage. So if you got $ 100 but you owe 40%, you would get only $ 60 back.
The building could argue that there was negligent conduct, including drinking, at the party. It's not clear if these students were drinking, but it was very late and the party reportedly included alcohol. More importantly, when students took a selfie, there may have been reckless behavior. I could teach an entire course on selfie torts as shown in many previous posts on this blog. If students both drank heavily and took reckless action, it could cross the threshold of a recovery barrier. In fact, the party may not be compliant with Covid guidelines (although this poses the risk that these rules are for protection and may be considered inapplicable as the standard of care). However, the building must anticipate such foreseeable misconduct if it does occur. Rooftop parties are common and alcohol is common at such parties. The view itself is an attraction for those who want pictures.
The chances of a lawsuit appear high in these circumstances. If this barrier were as low as described and the area was open to the public, it would indeed be a powerful potential tort.