Families of NYC Crane Collapse Win $96 Million Verdict
A NYC jury recently found that the owner of a crane company was liable for the death of two of his employees, who died when the crane collapsed at the corner of 91st Street and First Avenue in 2008. The families of the two workers who died were awarded a total of $48.3 million to compensate them for their losses and for the workers’ pain and suffering. The families were also awarded an additional $48 million in punitive damages levied against the crane owner.
This case demonstrates that, even where workers have died in a headline-grabbing story, obtaining compensation can be a long road requiring persistence and expert legal guidance. The trial lasted a total of 110 days over 10 months, and began in September 2014 following numerous delays and a previous mistrial. The jury heard from 60 different witnesses, including several expert witnesses.
The 30-year old crane operator and a 27-year old construction employee died in May 2008 when the crane tore off the apparatus holding it up and fell to the street below. The construction employee had been working on the street below the crane and ran in terror when he saw the crane coming down on him, but he could not escape it.
The Manhattan jury found that the owner of the crane company, who was referred to as the “King of Cranes,” was responsible for replacing a critical part of the crane with a part that he knew had been defectively manufactured by a Chinese company, and evidence indicated that the Chinese company itself sent an email indicating it did not have confidence in the welding of the part. Both the crane company and its owner will be responsible for paying the damages of over $96 million to the families of the victims. The damages awarded will compensate the families for, among other things, the lost wages of the two workers, the pain and suffering that the men endured in the accident, and the emotional loss of losing the two men, and will also act to penalize the defendants for their wrongdoing.
The owner of the crane company was previously acquitted of all criminal charges, including a manslaughter charge, related to the crane collapse when a NYC judge dismissed a criminal case against him in 2012. This case demonstrates, however, the distinction between a criminal and civil trial; even where there may not be enough evidence to prove criminal conduct against a defendant, a civil suit may still hold that defendant accountable in civil court, where the burden of proof is lower and the focus is on compensating the victims.
If you have been injured on the job at a construction site or other worksite, you may be entitled to a larger payout for your injuries than you would receive solely by pursuing workers’ compensation, as the above case involving the injured worker demonstrates. An experienced and knowledgeable construction accident attorney will help evaluate strategies for obtaining the maximum compensation for the losses of you and your family.
If you or a family member has been injured in a crane collapse or other construction accident in New Jersey or New York City, contact the Law Offices of Andrew R. Jacobs for a free consultation with an experienced and successful construction accident lawyer.