Equipment Owner Acquitted in Fatal 2008 Crane Accident
James Lomma was acquitted last week by State Supreme Court Justice Daniel P. Conviser on charges including manslaughter for his alleged role in a deadly crane accident. Lomma is the owner of the crane that collapsed in 2008, killing two construction workers. Prosecutors alleged that he knowingly took a shortcut in getting the crane repaired, putting everyone at a substantial risk.
Though the judge did not expand on his reasons for the acquittal, Lomma’s defense attorneys argued that repair work done on the crane was not to blame for the accident.
The accident happened as the crane began work on the 14th floor of what was going to be a 32-story building. As the crane lifted a load, “the top portions came off,” hitting a building across the street before falling.
Crane operator Donald C. Leo was killed when the crane nearly decapitated him. Twenty-seven year old Ramadan Kurtaj was also killed.
According to the Associated Press, Lomma sought a bargain when he needed welding done on the crane. He and mechanic Tibor Varganyi found a Chinese company who agreed to do the work for a low price even though they expressed concerns about the work itself.
Lomma is said to have ignored city inspectors’ requirements for crane repair. Prosecutors stated that the weld was too weak for the workload of the crane, and because it was on an important part of the crane—the turntable responsible for allowing the top of the crane to swivel—it ultimately caused the collapse.
Varganyi pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide last year and is expected to face sentencing this month.
Understandably, the families of the victims are not happy with Lomma’s verdict.
When you are injured or when a family member is killed in a construction accident like this, you want justice. Someone should be held responsible when tragedy like this occurs.
It is the responsibility of the company in charge of the job site to ensure that safety protocol is followed. It is also the responsibility of large equipment owners, like Mr. Lomma, to follow safety regulations in regards to the maintenance of their machines.
Criminal charges like those that Lomma faced are somewhat unusual in construction accident cases. Instead, justice is usually found in the civil courts.
If you are hurt in a construction accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries and the trouble they have caused. The attorneys with Omrani & Taub are experienced in handling cases like this in New York.