CENTER CITY (CBS) — A retail industry expert testifying at the Market Street collapse civil trial said the Salvation Army failed to adequately safeguard customers and workers before the deadly thrift store tragedy. Now in its 6th week, the case is expected to take a break later this week, and resume in mid-November.
Retail store operation consultant Alex Balian, who reviewed depositions, trial testimony, documents, letters and emails, said the day before the collapse, there was no scaffolding on the building being demolished next door and above the thrift store. He told jurors the Salvation Army “should have protected the thrift store before the first brick was taken off that building.”READ MORE: Philadelphia Students Finding Comfort In Rec Centers Again Amid Gun Violence Epidemic
Knowing store workers were complaining about falling debris the day before the collapse, Balian testified the thrift store should have been closed.READ MORE: 'I Thought I Was Done': Residents Of Trevose Mobile Home Park Pick Up The Pieces After EF-3 Tornado
He told jurors the Salvation Army’s Major John Cranford, administrator of Adult Rehabilitation Centers in Philadelphia, ignored email warnings from the company that owned the demolished building about the danger of a collapse. He said Cranford bears responsibility for his inaction, for failing to communicate with workers and the public.
Top charity officials previously testified they did not believe the “warnings of an imminent collapse.”MORE NEWS: Pirates' Crowe, 2 Relievers 1-Hit Phillies, End 4-Game Skid
Salvation Army lawyers attacked Balian’s credibility with frequent objections to his conclusions and opinions. They also say the so-called warnings from the company were an effort in negotiations with the Salvation Army to get the demolition done more quickly.