It was some time ago in 2008 that Donald Leo, a crane operator, fell 200 feet to his death and fellow workmate Ramadan Kurtaj was crushed when the crane fell at an Upper East Side construction site. It was alleged after the fatal accidents that the crane had been inadequately maintained.
The owner, James Lomma of New York Crane and Equipment, was found not guilty of criminal negligence in a criminal court in 2012. However, this has not stopped the still-grieving families from pursuing wrongful death claims against Lomma. The claims are now underway in a civil trial.
The deaths occurred after the 30-ton crane’s cab split from the tower mast and dropped 200 feet to ground level. The argument that opened the court case was that James Lomma knew of the crane’s defect but failed to stop its use until it was fixed. Instead it is alleged that he went for a quick-fix option which caused the deaths of the two workers.
Lomma gave the job to Tibor Varganyi, a mechanic, who is not a licensed engineer, and a bad weld allegedly began to fail within 24 hours.
A surprising feature of the case at the time was that James Lomma was actually acquitted of manslaughter after being tried in a criminal court in 2012. The trial took 10 weeks before the not-guilty verdict was delivered, while Varganyi entered a guilty plea for criminally negligent homicide. Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Daniel Conviser never explained at the time why he released Lomma from the six criminal counts that could have meant the multimillionaire being sent to prison for up to 15 years.
The fact of the matter is that cranes have the job of moving heavy products from place to place and they are not expected to fail in the process.
Lomma’s lawyers are ready in defense of Lomma by arguing in the same way as they did at Lomma’s criminal trial by saying that Leo hoisted the crane too quickly and beyond its limits.
Whether the relatives of the deceased win their wrongful death claims or not, it is another deadly reminder of what can happen on construction sites where dangerous bits of equipment are in use. It also shows that owners of construction site equipment such as cranes can’t always be trusted to keep these giants in good working order, meaning that workers’ lives are at stake.
The relatives want closure on this sad event where two young men’s lives were extinguished through no fault of their own. Typically, a wrongful death claim seeks to confirm who was to blame for the accident and provides compensation for those who were left behind to bear the grief and financial hardship that took place as a result of the loss of a breadwinner.
In the wake of that deadly crane accident, the city vowed to improve safety requirements, but it still has only 3 more inspectors than 2008.
If you or one of your relatives has been injured or killed in an accident – whether it was at work, on a bus or a train or while out driving on one of New York’s highways – and it was not his or her fault, then you should contact Richard S Jaffe Esq., an experienced wrongful death and personal injury attorney serving the Long Island and New York areas. He will assess your eligibility to file a compensation claim against the person or organization who caused the accident. A statute of limitation does apply for a wrongful death claim, and that is two years from the date of the death.
You can contact Richard Jaffe for a free consultation at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, 2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll-free: 800-483-6149.
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