Basciano's attorney, Thomas A. Sprague, declined to comment on the allegation.
Campbell's criminal attorney, William Hobson, said the demolition contractor "never, never, never rejected any outside technical help" and said he had no knowledge of any efforts to lease a high-rise lift.
In the weeks leading up to the June 5 disaster, Basciano's agents had assured Salvation Army officials in letters and e-mails that they intended to use a boom truck to lift workers over their thrift shop at 22d and Market Streets so they could use hand tools to attack the four-story building next door.
In early May, Tynisha Benschop, the wife of subcontractor Sean Benschop, contacted Ahern Rentals, a heavy-equipment rental firm, about leasing a 66-foot boom lift.
On May 13, according to an invoice prepared by the rental company, Ahern quoted a price to Benschops' firm, S&R Contracting: $4,224, including delivery, taxes and a damage waiver.
But the plan was never implemented.
Instead, demolition workers began the task by removing the building's wooden floors. Eventually, Benschop and his excavator were brought to the site.
But without the lateral support the floors provided, the wall adjacent the Salvation Army thrift shop came crashing down on top of it, killing six people and injuring 14, including Benschop. After Benschop's blood tests showed high levels of marijuana in his system, he was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Plekan, who was shopping when the wall collapsed, has been hospitalized at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania since the accident.
Her lawsuit, filed by attorney Andrew J. Stern of the Kline Specter law firm, says she suffered "devastating permanent injuries," including double hip and leg amputations "that have led to the removal of her entire lower body."
Her lawsuit provides the most detailed account so far of the alleged mistakes and misjudgments that led to the fatal collapse, and a preview of some of the issues that will likely keep lawyers fighting for years as they try to assess responsibility for the accident.
It names both Basciano and the Salvation Army, along with numerous associates, as defendants, claiming that both of them put financial considerations ahead of their legal responsibilities to ensure public safety - Basciano trying to minimize his demolition costs and the Salvation Army trying to keep its thrift shop operating despite the dangerous project next door.
While Basciano's attorney declined to comment, an attorney representing the Salvation Army, Eric A. Weiss, strenuously denied the allegation.
Weiss said the charity's architect and executives had been assured several times in May by the Basciano group that the demolition work would be done by hand, by men using bucket trucks with long booms, to protect the Salvation Army building and the people inside.
But over the weekend of June 1-2, without notice to the Salvation Army, Weiss said, Campbell brought Benschop's excavator onto the site, and on Monday or Tuesday it began doing structural demolition work. About 10:40 a.m. Wednesday, after most of the flooring had been removed, the wall collapsed.
Both Basciano and Campbell had been at the demolition site the morning of the collapse, according to Plekan's lawsuit.
"No one at the Salvation Army who had been involved in the discussions [a lawyer based in Harrisburg, and officers based in New York] had any idea, or had been advised by the owners or Griffin Campbell, that any of this was going to be done," Weiss said. "The Salvation Army was not aware that they were using or had moved an excavator onto the scene."
Activity in most of the civil suits filed since the building collapse has been frozen waiting for the District Attorney's Office to complete a criminal investigation.
But Stern is seeking court permission to record his client's testimony next month, because of concern that she could die at any moment, due to complications including kidney failure, liver dysfunction, heart and lung problems, and sepsis infection.
Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or firstname.lastname@example.org.