Crane Accident Verdict Highlights Importance of Civil Courts

Last month I wrote about a criminal trial in New York considering liability for a 2008 industrial accident in Manhattan. Two construction workers died when their crane collapsed. This week, following a 10-week trial, a New York judge dismissed all four charges against the crane’s owner, who was accused of cutting corners on safety in several ways, notably by hiring “an unqualified Chinese company to make repairs to the crane because it offered a low price and quick turnaround,” according to the New York Times.

The newspaper notes that the verdict “underscored the difficulty of proving criminal liability in construction accidents, especially when the city and others are accused of mistakes in oversight and regulation that lead to fatal episodes.”
Families of the victims expressed understandable dismay when the verdict was announced. The Times, however, reports that the case is not over. “The families still have a civil suit pending,” it reports, adding that the acquittal on criminal charges “does not effect the civil case” where, as the plaintiffs attorney noted, there is a lower burden of proof.

The essential role our civil courts play in ensuring that justice is done can offer some solace at times like this. An industrial accident here in Oregon is often a legally complex affair in which the roles of equipment suppliers and maintenance companies need to be considered, not just those of a particular item’s owner or operator. It is precisely to allow this sort of nuanced consideration of facts that we have both civil and criminal courts here in the United States.

The laws concerning industrial accidents vary from state to state, so it is important to speak with an Oregon industrial accident lawyer if you are injured in an accident in Portland or elsewhere in our state. Here in Oregon, industrial accidents often involve propane explosions. They are also often related to industries in the rural parts of the state. Whatever the particulars of your situation may be, expert legal advice can be an invaluable first step in the process of protecting your rights.

New York Times: Crane owner is cleared of all charges in fatal collapse