This blog attempts to focus on auto accidents and similar events that occur in the Detroit area, but occasionally, an accident or other calamity from a faraway city has lessons for residents of the Motor City and its suburbs. A remarkable jury verdict and an analysis of the important evidence demonstrates how careless workman ship can have tragic consequences.
In 2019, workers in the South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle were dismantling a 300-foot-tall tower crane in strong wind gusts when the crane fell from the roof of the building that was under construction. Two iron workers fell to their deaths, and the falling steel beams from the crane landed on cars parked on the street below. A 19-year-old student and Seattle Pacific University and a 71-year-old former city worker were killed by the falling metal. Lawsuits were commenced by the families of the two persons killed on the ground and by families of other persons who suffered injuries in the collapse.
When settlement talks failed, the case was tried to a jury in Seattle. On Monday, March 14, 2022, a jury returned a verdict awarding the plaintiffs the total sum of $100 million. Investigators said that workers employed to dismantle the crane had failed to review the crane’s disassembly instructions prematurely removed large pins that secured the crane’s mast, a procedure commonly used to save time and money. The company that provided the team of steelworkers and the company that provided a mobile crane used in the disassembly were assessed 75% of the fault for the accident, and the remaining 25% of liability was assessed against a company not involved in the lawsuit.
Lessons to be learned
This case presented a complex set of facts, and sorting out liability must have taxed the lawyers, the judge and the jury. Anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one under a similar set of circumstances may wish to consult an experienced accident attorney for an evaluation of the evidence and an opinion on the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost present and future income, disability, and pain and suffering.