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Operator found at fault in fatal crane accident sues city

The man deemed responsible for a crane collapse that terminally injured a Tribaca pedestrian has filed a lawsuit alleging defamation in Manhattan Supreme Court. A 38-year-old mathematician from Prague was walking from the subway stop at Chambers Street to his office. He died after being struck by the crane.

The 58-year-old crane operator had his operator's license suspended after the New York City Department of Buildings investigated the accident in February 2016. The crane toppled over when wind gusted during the morning commute. Ten months' post-accident, the inquiry report was released, naming the crane operator as the one who was at fault for not securing the heavy equipment the evening before. He was also found to have lowered its boom improperly.

According to the lawsuit filed this week, the operator alleges that the investigation incorrectly concluded he was at fault and defamed him. As such, he claims that "a full lay down of the crane each night" was not allowed at the construction site and work plans had been approved by the city that permitted the heavy equipment to remain standing overnight.

While his license remains suspended, the buildings agency stated it shall seek revocation of the operator's license. The spokesperson for the Department of Buildings announced, "Our investigation found that (the operator) acted recklessly, with tragic results."

One defendant is Crane Tech Solutions, a contractor hired by the city to analyze the fatal crane accident. Also included in the filing was a notice of claim which indicated the plaintiff intends to sue the city for $2.5 million.

The spokesperson for the city's Law Department indicated the claim will be reviewed.

Construction accidents are not always open-and-shut cases where liability is clear. An investigation can be inherently flawed, corrupted or otherwise problematic. All avenues of liability should be explored by those injured or the survivors of the deceased.

Source: New York Daily News, "Operator of crane that killed passerby sues, says collapse was not his fault," Stephen Rex Brown, Dec. 12, 2017

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