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Crane owner on trial in Manhattan for 2 deaths

The owner of a 200-foot-tall construction crane involved in the deaths of two Manhattan construction workers is once again in civil court facing accusations of wrongful death in the double fatality that occurred in May 2008.

The owner once faced criminal charges in the men's deaths but was acquitted. When their relatives earlier pursued civil litigation following the fatal crane topple, the owner was granted a mistrial in May because he had suffered several fractures in a car accident and was unable to attend the trial.

While his attendance at his civil trial wasn't mandatory, his attorney successfully argued that his absence would be deleterious to his defense. However, even though the accident occurred during the jury selection phase of the trial, his attorneys didn't disclose that fact for several days. They claimed that the severity of his injuries didn't become apparent until opening statements had begun.

The crane accident came only a couple months after another crane collapsed at a midtown construction site, killing seven workers. The two accidents were the impetus for new on-the-job safety regulations being implemented.

In the second collapse, the top pieces of the crane broke off and crashed down. The crane's operator and a man working on the ground were both killed.

Families of the two men have named several entities and agencies as contributing to their loved ones' deaths. However, they lay the bulk of the blame at the feet of the crane's owner, alleging that he cut financial corners with a haphazard repair that caused a main support to fail, causing the equipment to topple over.

He was acquitted of all criminal charges in 2012, while the mechanic in charge of setting up the repair was given a year of community service after entering a plea of criminally negligent homicide.

When seeking justice and compensation for wrongful deaths of loved ones, the legal delays and maneuvers can be quite frustrating. It's helpful to have competent and compassionate legal representation by your side through all phases of the process.

Source: WCBS-TV, "Wrongful Death Trial Begins Anew In Upper East Side Crane Fall" Oct. 02, 2014

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