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High Stakes Drama As Defense Gives Final Closing Argument At Market St. Collapse Civil Trial

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There was high drama during and after the final defense closing argument at the civil trial that may determine financial liability after the 2013 deadly Market Street building collapse.

The courtroom was jammed to view a clash of legal titans, as legendary defense attorney Richard Sprague faced off against renowned plaintiffs attorney Robert Mongeluzzi.

Sprague delivered his closing argument on behalf of building owner Richard Basciano, asking jurors "do plaintiffs really want justice? No way. They blame everyone and revenge can blind you."

The 91-year-old Sprague told jurors they just watched a four-and-a-half month long Broadway production during which top-notch lawyers - a nod to opposing counsel- were actors, in his words, "including me."

Mongeluzzi, who delivered a blistering plaintiff's final rebuttal, responded "do not confuse theatrics with passion, the victims and the family want justice."

Mongeluzzi says Basciano and the Salvation Army spent hundreds of thousands of dollars each on their expert witnesses to protect them in court but neither did anything to protect workers and shoppers killed and injured in the thrift store.

Earlier, while standing at the front of the jury box, Salvation Army lawyer Jack Snyder asked jurors: "How is it that after the collapse this charity got dragged into the civil litigation?" He turned quickly around and pointed to opposing counsel representing plaintiffs. Snyder told jurors "it's because a bunch of lawyers got involved." There are about 25 in the courtroom.

Snyder says the Salvation Army had nothing to do with the demolition going on next door to its thrift store. Another defense lawyer trying to shield architect Plato Marinakos from liability told jurors "he was an advisor not a decision maker." Neil Clain said Marinakos was not knowledgeable about demoition techniques, and it was the demo contractor Griffin Campbell who determined the "means and methods" of demolition.

The 4 1/2 month-long case resumes on Monday, when the judge will charge the jury on points of law.

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