Jim Rosenfield: As we mentioned earlier, opening statements underway and the trial prompted by the deadly Center City building collapse.
Demolition contractor Griffin Campbell faces third degree murder charges for the collapse of a four-storey wall. That wall fell on a Salvation Army thrift store where people were shopping inside. Six peopled died. More than a dozen others injured in the June 2013 collapse.
Griffin Campbell’s construction company was in charge of that demolition but there are questions that still linger about who else could be implicated.
NBC 10 investigative reporter Harry Hairston has more on that part of our story. Harry?
Harry Hairston: Well Jim, since that deadly collapse in 2013, two people are criminally charged but one legal expert tells us, “Don’t be surprised to see a flurry of more legal activity following Griffin Campbell’s trial, if not before.”
10:49 AM, June 5th, 2013, the Salvation Army building collapsed. The deadly moment caught on this SEPTA bus surveillance camera. The contractor Griffin Campbell and his crane operator Sean Benschop are formally charged.
Today I spoke with our legal expert Enrique Latoison about possible criminal charges against the owner of the property who ultimately hired the contractor.
Harry Hairston: The owner of the property has not been charged with anything. What do you see happening down the road in that regard?
Enrique Latoison: Well, as more time goes on, it becomes harder to charge people because if you charge people very long after the fact, a year or two years later, the case really looks very weak or you can start to wonder, “Why didn’t you charge this person to begin with?”
Harry Hairston: Latoison tells us the owner of the property would point the finger at the city, claiming the city licensed the people the property owner hired.
Enrique Latoison: And he had no way of knowing this person would do something that was – could be dangerous to other people.
Harry Hairston: But the owner among others is named [0:01:52] [Phonetic] in a civil suit which is scheduled for September of 2016. Latoison says the owner may find it difficult to avoid some responsibility. According to billing records, the owner paid Griffin Campbell a flat fee of $112,000. Demolition experts say the job should cost nearly four times as much.
Enrique Latoison: That’s going to be harmful to the owner. It’s going to be harmful towards the owner and it’s going to be used against him to say that you should have known that no one could come in and do this job safely and correctly for that price. You should have been aware of the fact that the only way someone could do the job at that price is to cut corners.
Harry Hairston: I just you to know that I do want to point out 19 people are also named in that civil action. Now our legal expert also says the Salvation Army may have a tough time avoiding responsibility as well. He believes the operation could have closed its doors during the demolition as a safety measure. For the investigators, Harry Hairston, NBC 10 news.