Family of building collapse victim files wrongful death suit

The scene as it appeared shortly after the June 5 building collapse at 22nd and Market streets in Philadelphia.  Credit: Metro
The scene as it appeared shortly after the June 5 building collapse at 22nd and Market streets in Philadelphia.
Credit: Metro

In a wrongful death lawsuit filed today, the family of a 24-year-old woman killed in June’s building collapse is pointing a finger at the Salvation Army, along with property owners.

Steve Wigrizer, attorney for the family of Mary Lea Simpson, said if the building owners, Richard Basciano and STB Investments Corporation, “had gotten an engineering survey and plan and went about the project the proper way, this could have been avoided.”

Also listed as defendants: Griffin Campbell Construction, architect Plato Marinakos and Sean Benschop (alias Kary Roberts), who operated the excavator.

“Having said that,” Wigrizer added. “It was clear in the weeks preceding the collapse that the Salvation Army was well aware of the risk and they went back and fourth with the owners bickering over minutiae, about allowing access to the Salvation Army so as to complete the demolition as safe a way as possible, and they understood there was risk of collapse; and they nevertheless failed to cooperate with the owners, and they permitted the business to stay open.

“So on June 5 that Salvation Army Thrift Shop should not have been opened,” Wigrizer said.

He said the Salvation Army was a multibillion-dollar organization, and not a mom-and-pop store.

“The Salvation Army should have known better,” Wigrizer said.

In Pennsylvania, specific dollar amounts are not sought. The Jury decides the appropriate settlement.

Simpson, a 2007 graduate of Haverford High School, was shopping with a friend at the thrift store at 22nd and Market streets when a building undergoing demolition collapsed on top of it. Simpson’s best friend, Anne Bryan, was also killed.

A total of six people were killed, and 13 were injured.

Wigrizer said it’s been a “tremendously traumatic experience” for the family.

“They are grief-stricken and heartbroken,” Wigrizer said.


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