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Wrongful death by demolition

A day of shopping should never result in the end to someone's life. This is the unfortunate story of a Philadelphia woman who died while shopping at a Salvation Army Thrift Store. The family of the deceased has filed a wrongful death suit against the company.

Earlier this year a building in Philadelphia was demolished. During the demolition, a wall fell on top of the roof of the adjacent Salvation Army Thrift Store. Mary Lea Simpson became trapped under the rubble of the roof that subsequently collapsed. She succumbed to asphyxiation while waiting to be rescued.

The foundation of the Simpson family law suit is that the thrift store should have done more to protect its customers. The family's lawyer asserts that since the store had knowledge that the demolition was scheduled to take place, the store should have been closed on that day. By staying open to the public the store created an unreasonable risk to its patrons. Counsel for the Salvation Army stated that the nonprofit was not aware that there was a danger of collapse. At the time of the incident there was an ongoing negotiation between the Salvation Army and developer Richard Basciano concerning the appropriate methods for handling the demolition.

Fatal accidents such as this one can create severe emotional strain in the lives of surviving family members. Though wrongful death suits can never bring back a lost loved one, it can help to bring about closure to the family. Consulting with an attorney can provide legal options so families can focus on healing.

Source:, "Death suit says thrift store struck by falling debris failed to cooperate with demolition," Martha Neil, September 3, 2013

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