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Family of collapse victim files suit

In June, disaster hit Philadelphia as six people were killed and thirteen more injured when they were shopping in one of the city's Salvation Army thrift stores. The accident happened when the demolition of an adjacent building went terribly wrong and collapsed into the building that housed the Salvation Army. On Tuesday, the family of one of the young women who perished in the accident filed the first of what will likely be six wrongful death lawsuits.

Mary Lea Simpson was dropping off clothes with a long-time friend when a wall that was left unsupported during preliminary safety precaution checks collapsed into the thrift shop and trapped nineteen people inside. Simpson's family is suing the Salvation Army, the demolition contractors, and Richard Basciano, the owner of the building in question. 

The Simpsons are suing the Salvation Army for keeping open hours during the time the demolition was taking place. And they are suing Basciano and the contractors, Sean Benschop and Griffin Campbell, for developing a dangerous plan and beginning deconstruction before acquiring all appropriate permits.

This is Basciano's second such lawsuit. He was found guilty of similar charges in 1997 when a Philadelphia judge was killed when a Basciano-owned garage collapsed on a sidewalk where the man was walking. The fact that this is Basciano's second incident strengthens the case against him and perpetuates his negligence.

Basciano had been at odds with the Salvation Army in the months leading up to the accident. He wanted access to their top floor so that he could deconstruct his building brick by brick, as is recommended by expert contractors. When friendly discourse could no longer be had between both sides, Basciano decided to blow the building up. The Simpson's do not lay the blame on any one party, but feel all parties are partly to blame because the incident was entirely avoidable.  

Source:, "Family sues over Philadelphia demolition death" 3 September 2013

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