When the Salvation Army resale store on market Street in Philadelphia collapsed during demolition in June 2013, seven people were killed and 13 people were injured. The contractor, Griffin Campbell and excavator operator Sean Benshop were found criminally responsible and sentenced to prison but the building owner and contractor were not charged. Campbell is serving a 15- to 30-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter and other offenses. Sean Benschop, who was operating the machine despite taking Percocet and marijuana for medical problems, was sentenced to 7½ to 15 years in prison for similar crimes.
Yesterday, after a lengthy civil trial, a Philadelphia jury found the owner of the building, Richard Basciano, and architect and demolition monitor, Plato A. Marinakos Jr., as well as the Salvation Army, and the two imprisoned defendants guilty of negligent conduct during the planning and execution of the building demolition. Attorneys argued Basciano hired cut-rate workers to demo the Market Street building. The unqualified workers took the four-story building down from the inside out, destabilizing the brick exterior walls.
The Salvation Army was faulted for keeping the store open despite warnings about the demolition.
The Salvation Army, Basciano and Marinakos all must pay damages. On Friday, the trial enters a second phase in which the jury will determine how much each defendant owes the nineteen plaintiffs.