Six long years after a crane collapse claimed the lives of construction workers Donald Leo and Ramadan Kurtaj, the victims’ families have yet to see justice. A Manhattan judge declared a mistrial in the New York crane accident lawsuit after one of the key witnesses, James Lomma, was injured in a car accident, rendering him unable to attend the proceedings. In their wrongful death claim, the families are suing several defendants, but place most of the blame on 68-year old Lomma, who owns New York Crane and Equipment.
The relatives of Kurtaj and Leo allege that Lomma took short cuts in repairing a crucial crane component, which later failed causing the collapse. The fatal accident took place on East 91st Street when the crane’s cab (weighing some 30 tons) suddenly broke free from the mast, and came crashing down 200 feet, crushing the two hard hat workers.
NY wrongful death crane accident lawsuit ends in mistrial
“It’s unfortunate that on the anniversary date we have to grant a mistrial, but there is no other way,” Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez said, adding “It is only fair to allow Mr. Lomma — to be present at trial.” In the unfortunate car wreck, Lomma had been “incapacitated through no acts of his own.”
Legal counsel for the family of Donald Leo told the Daily News that Lomma’s attorneys had tried to stall the wrongful death trial, and were especially worried as it seemed that the “jury had a pulse.” However, speculations that Lomma was faking his injuries remain unfounded. Judge Mendez confirmed that James Lomma was involved in a collision on May 20, in which he suffered several fractures in multiple body parts. Lomma’s doctors indicate that he won’t be well enough to attend court for at least another 2 to 3 months.
In light of the mistrial, Judge Mendez has slated a new trial for September 9, 2014. Though Lomma’s presence wasn’t technically necessary, his lawyers contended that his testimony was pivotal for his defense. Two years prior, Lomma was acquitted of all criminal charges by a different Manhattan judge, despite damning testimony provided by one of his mechanics.
Meanwhile, the families of both victims are devastated at the turn of events, leaving the courthouse in tears. Several of Kurtaj’s relatives flew to NYC all the way from Kosovo for the trial.
Sadly, the 2008 construction accident that killed Leo and Kurtaj is just one of many in the New York metro region. According to statistics, construction site deaths in the greater NYC area rose from 28 to 40 from 2010 and 2011, and Manhattan job sites consistently have the highest number of fatalities.
NY construction accident lawyers
These bleak numbers highlight the many dangers faced by our city’s hard hats, who place their lives on the line every day. If you or a loved one has been injured from heavy equipment malfunction, a crane collapse or other type of construction site accident, you need the advocacy of Edelman, Krasin & Jaye. Our veteran attorneys are well-versed in OSHA(Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and local labor laws/ safety regulations and will help determine if you have grounds for filing a crane accident lawsuit in New York.
We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t collect a dime unless we win or settle your claim. Call our offices now to schedule a free and confidential case review with an experienced NY construction accident attorney.