$227M settlement in building collapse is city’s biggest ever

Metro file photo

The longest civil trial in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas history ended this week with the largest settlement in state history being awarded to the victims of the 2013 Salvation Army building collapse in Center City.

The $227 million settlement for victims of the June 5, 2013, building collapse at 22nd and Market streets was announced Wednesday after a jury found all defendants in a civil trial responsible for the collapse, which killed seven and severely injured a dozen more.

“They were crushed to death in a third-world style disaster that made international news,” is how the collapse has been described by former city treasurer Nancy Winkler, whose 24-year-old daughter Anne Bryan was among those killed in the disaster.

The Salvation Army and developer Richard Basciano, who had ordered the demolition of a former sandwich shop next to the thrift store, are expected to pay the bulk of the settlement funds — $200 million from Salvation Army, the rest from Basciano, according to the Inquirer.

Also found responsible for the collapse were architect Plato Marinakos, demolition contractor Griffin Campbell, who was sentenced to 15 to 30 years for involuntary manslaughter, and backhoe operator Sean Benschop, who received 7½ to 15 years for pleading guilty to the same charges.

The collapse occurred when a free-standing wall from the adjacent demolition site fell onto the Salvation Army, with staff and customers inside.

The settlement funds will be divided among the victims and their families.

Mariya Plekan, who survived the collapse but who had the bottom half of her body severed, is “almost certain to receive the largest portion of the settlement,” the Inquirer reported. Plekan, a Ukrainian immigrant who was 52 when she was trapped under the rubble for 13 hours, is expected to require medical care for the remainder of her life.

The NAACP Philadelphia chapter has called for Campbell to receive a new trial now that the civil trial has concluded.

A memorial garden is in the works at the site of the collapse.

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