Crane owner James Lomma Cleared of All Wrongdoing in Fatal 2008 Accident
Daniel Edward Rosen April 26, 2012, 12:52 p.m.
Crane owner James Lomma was acquitted today of the deaths of two construction workers who were killed in the fatal 2008 construction accident on the Upper East Side.
Judge Daniel Conviser gave his verdict in Manhattan Supreme Court, clearing Mr. Lomma and his company New York Crane & Equipment Corp. of second-degree manslaughter, assault, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.
The charges stemmed from the 2008 accident on East 91st street, in which the top part of one of Mr. Lomma’s 200-foot cranes broke off, sending debris crashing into a building below. Two men, Donald Leo, 30, and Ramadan Kurtaj, 27, were both killed in the accident.
Mr. Lomma was facing up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors painted Mr. Lomma as a greedy businessman who skimped on crucial repairs to his crane in favor of continued business.
Mr. Lomma had hired a Chinese company to make repairs to a crack in the crane’s turntable, which prosecutors claimed ultimately lead to the crane’s collapse. The defense countered, saying it was the heavy load that the crane was lifting that caused the accident.
In a statement released shortly after the verdict, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said:
“Although we are disappointed with the Judge’s 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. 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.”