Defense Lawyer Pins Blame On Two People In Market Street Collapse Civil Trial

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A lead defense lawyer at the Market Street collapse civil trial pinned blame on the only two people who faced criminal charges and were convicted. Defense lawyers took all day giving opening statements, just like their opposing counsel, representing plaintiffs, a day earlier.

Defense lawyer Thomas Sprague told jurors the collapse was the result of the “unforeseeable, grossly reckless, criminal conduct” of demolition contractor Griffin Campbell and his excavator operator Sean Benschop. Sprague represents Richard Basciano, the building owner, whom he says was not negligent.

The 91-year-old Basciano sat in the front row — hard of hearing — he was wearing headphones to follow along.

Sprague maintains Benschop “smoked so much marijuana that morning his judgment, coordination, attention and ability to handle the excavator was impaired.”

Sprague also maintains Basciano’s right-hand man, Thomas Simmonds, relied on the architect on the job, Plato Marinakos, to recommend Campbell as the demolition contractor.

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