Attorneys in New Jersey’s neighbor Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have begun courtroom proceedings to identify the responsible party in a fatal building collapse in 2013. The premises liability case relates to the collapse of an unsupported brick wall that fell and crushed employees and patrons at the Salvation Army thrift shop in downtown Philadelphia in June of that year. Six people suffered fatal injuries in the incident, and a total of 19 people were buried in the rubble.

The civil case is not the first courtroom debate about the building collapse – in fact, contractors in the matter are serving prison terms for their involvement in creating the hazardous conditions in the retail store. Victims are now seeking financial compensation from those who were deemed responsible in criminal court, along with additional money from the building’s developer and architect and the Salvation Army itself. Testimony in the criminal trial is being used as evidence in the civil suit.

This case showcases the hazardous conditions that can occur when a building owner uses cut-rate contractors to perform critical building work. Those unqualified construction professionals added a severe amount of risk to the project, putting the public in harm’s way, according to attorneys for the victims. Further, the Salvation Army was negligent in allowing patrons to continue to visit the store, even though the construction had previously been characterized as dangerous.

Hazardous conditions at retail stores can have serious consequences. We are not always talking about a simple case of slip-and-fall accidents. Sometimes, the negligence is so great that people die, leaving behind grieving family members who are facing major medical costs and other financial woes. These victims deserve justice through the civil courts, and a premises liability case can help them recover the financial resources they need to carry on.

Source: New Jersey Herald, “Jury to assess blame in fatal Philadelphia building collapse,” Maryclaire Dale, Jan. 25, 2017