PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It took more than a week, but a jury has now been picked for the civil trial to determine if anyone should be liable financially in the deadly 2013 Market Street building collapse. The selection process was done in secret to avoid publicity and “tainting the jury pool.” Opening statements will begin on Monday.
The presiding judge, Teresa Sarmina, ordered that the preliminary examination of potential jurors be done behind closed doors. Now, 12 jurors and seven alternates are seated. She also slapped a gag order on everyone involved, for the duration of the trial, which is expected to be lengthy.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers will ask jurors to find that negligence by the defendants, including the building owner, Richard Basciano, his architect, Plato Marinakos, and the Salvation Army contributed to the collapse at 22nd and Market Streets.
The plaintiffs include the families of the six people killed and others injured when an unsupported wall of a vacant building being demolished toppled over and crushed the Salvation Army Thrift Store.
Only only two people – the demolition contractor, Griffin Campbell, and his excavator, Sean Benschop – faced criminal charges. They are defendants in the civil case, too.
If the jury ultimately finds any individual or corporate entity liable, the trial will move into a penalty phase during which jurors will determine how much to award in damages.