A crane owner was ordered this week to pay $24 million to the families of two workers killed in a 2008 crane collapse in New York City, according to news reports. The award raised total damages in the case to more than $96 million.
A judge ruled that James F. Lomma -- who was acquitted of criminal charges in the accident – knew the crane was defective when he allowed it to be used by workers. The accident occurred when the crane separated from the tower and collapsed, killing crane operator Donald C. Leo and Ramadan Kurtaj, a construction worker on the street below. Leo was 30 years old, Kurtaj was 27.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that Lomma had used an unqualified Chinese company to repair the crane to save money, and the crane collapse was due to shoddy welding.
Lomma’s lawyers claimed that the crane operator hoisted too heavy a load, causing the line to snap and knocking the crane off balance. Following the verdict, they said Lomma would appeal.