Crane Company Owner Cleared in Fatal Collapse
James F. Lomma, the 66-year-old owner of New York Crane and Equipment Corporation, has been acquitted of second-degree manslaughter and three other charges with regard to a Manhattan tower crane collapse that killed two construction workers.
Justice Daniel Conviser of State Supreme Court in Manhattan gave no reasons for clearing Lomma of the charges.
Crane operator Donald Leo, 30, and Ramadan Kurtaj, a 27-year-old worker on the ground were killed when the nearly 200-foot (61-meter) tall crane snapped and crashed into a building on the Upper East Side in May 2008.
Lomma was acquitted of second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault and reckless endangerment charges.
Prosecutors argued during the non-jury trail that Lomma had saved money on a critical crane repair by buying a part from a Chinese company. One month later, the part broke, causing the crane to collapse.
Lomma’s defense counsel claimed that the collapse was caused by operator error.
The incident occurred only two months after another Lomma-owned crane collapsed in Manhattan, killing seven people. He
was not charged in the first incident, although the city adopted new crane inspection rules after it occurred.
Family members of the two dead workers are pursuing a civil lawsuit against Lomma.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. says while he’s disappointed with the verdict, “each case we have brought in this area has put increased scrutiny on the construction industry as a whole, and has had a cascading effect on safety practices.
“Construction companies must do everything in their power to protect the safety of workers and the thousands of New Yorkers who live near or walk by a construction site every day,” he says. “The tragic deaths of two young men in this case showed the serious and fatal consequences that can result when profit is put ahead of safety.”