Testimony resumes Tuesday in the Philadelphia civil trial of lawsuits filed after the deadly 2013 Center City building collapse, and lawyers for those killed and injured said they expected to complete their case Thursday.
The predicted end of the plaintiffs' case after almost six weeks of trial and 19 witnesses was announced Monday by lawyer Jeffrey P. Goodman during a hearing before Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina. It was the first time Sarmina and lawyers have met since Oct. 26, when they agreed to a break for a vacation the judge planned before she was assigned the trial.
During the break, the jurors - a main panel of seven men and five women, and five alternates - returned to their private lives.
Sarmina also warned them of the high cost - to the parties and themselves - if they violated their oaths by reading news accounts or by independent research and a mistrial resulted.
In addition to arguing several evidentiary motions, Monday's hearing included debate about why the trial was moving slowly and when it will end.
The jurors will be off Thanksgiving and the day after, which are official court holidays. They will also be off for extended periods in late December for Christmas and other end-of-year holidays.
The trial's "expected conclusion" date is Feb. 3, 2017. Still, some lawyers - and the judge - said they were worried that they might run out of time.
Once lawyers for the six killed and 13 injured - one of whom died 23 days after the June 5, 2013, collapse that crushed a Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market Streets - finish their case, the trial shifts to the defense.
After the defense finishes, the jury will deliberate on which, if any, of the defendants should be held liable.
Those being sued include New York real estate speculator Richard Basciano and his STB Investments Corp.; Center City architect Plato A. Marinakos Jr., STB's agent overseeing demolition of a four-story building that fell on the thrift store; and the demolition contractor and excavator operator.
The contractor, Griffin Campbell, and excavator operator, Sean Benschop, were the only two criminally charged and convicted as a result of the collapse. Both are serving long prison terms and are considered insolvent.
The Salvation Army is sued for purportedly ignoring the growing danger next door.
If the jurors find one or more defendants liable, they would begin hearing testimony on the amount of damages they should award.