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Waters muddied in NY crane trial

A ‘newly discovered’ letter could stir up confusion in the on-going civil and criminal trials concerning New York’s fatal Upper East Side crane collapse in 2008.

The letter appears to implicate New York’s buildings Department by suggesting that it was aware that a repair had been carried out to the slew ring support weldment, the failure of which caused the accident.

The city’s lawyer Michael Tobin, told the court of a civil action for wrongful-death brought by the victims’ families, that the letter had been found it in an old filing cabinet. The letter is dated March 2008, predating the accident that killed two men.
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The letter from crane owner James Lomma tells Michael Carbone, an ex-employee of Lomma’s and the then chief crane inspector for the department of buildings, that the part had been repaired. It goes on to refer to previous discussions between him and Carbone concerning the repair and concludes by inviting Carbone to stop by the site and check out the repair any time he’d like. The visit never happened and Carbone has denied receiving the letter or having any such communication with Lomma.

While the letter has been introduced by the relatives of the two deceased men, in order to get the city ‘back on the hook’ for civil damages, it could also help Lomma significantly in his manslaughter trial scheduled for February 21st , by claiming that the city was fully aware of the situation and that it made no effort to inspect or stop the crane.

Another issue which has apparently surfaced recently, involves the forensic analysis which indicates that prior to the collapse, ’various safety devices’ on the crane were disabled by the operator and other staff, in order to help concrete subcontract company, Sorbara Construction. Lomma’s lawyers have raised this in order to shift at least some of the responsibility for the accident onto the operators themselves.
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Lomma’s lawyer, Andrew Lankler, said it was unfortunate that Varganyi pleaded guilty because the evidence will demonstrate that no one at the company violated any criminal laws.


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