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Company investigated in Mercer crane collapse being sued in separate incident

(AP)

A company under investigation following a fatal crane collapse on Mercer Street in Seattle is currently being sued for a separate crane-related incident back in 2016.

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The lawsuit was filed just over a month prior to the Mercer crane collapse, alleging that a handful of companies “failed to properly hire, train, and/or supervise their employees with due care and good judgment,” after an elevator attached to a crane fell over 30 feet with a construction worker inside.

The lawsuit specifically cites the failure of those companies to shut down operations during adverse weather conditions.

One of the four defendants accused in the case is Morrow Equipment Company, the owner of the crane in the latest fatal Mercer incident in Seattle, and the builder and operator responsible for the crane in the 2016 incident.

Additionally, one of the plaintiffs in the case was working on the construction project while an employee of Seaburg Construction, another company under investigation for the Mercer crane collapse. It’s worth noting, though, that Seaburg is not a defendant in this lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that during construction on a building in downtown Seattle in late 2016, winds of over 35 miles per hour made a power cord slip, causing an external elevator erected on a crane to plummet several feet, before “coming to an abrupt and hard stop.” It goes on to claim that a construction worker sustained injuries from the fall.

The filing document claims that one of the plaintiffs was directed to operate the elevator despite the supervisor “having actual knowledge that the wind speeds and gusts made it unsafe for use.”

Among the factors being investigated as the cause of the Mercer crane collapse last month is inclement weather — winds at the time were reportedly gusting over 20 miles an hour.

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industry is in the midst of investigating the five contractors responsible for the crane in the Mercer incident. That includes the general contractor, the crane provider (Morrow), the employer of the tower crane operator (Seaburg), and the two companies involved with disassembling the crane.

A full report on the Mercer crane collapse could take as many as six months to complete before a cause is determined. L&I has two lead investigators looking into that incident, both of whom are former crane operators. Over the next few months, they will be gathering computer data, talking to witnesses, and reviewing video evidence.

The lawsuit for the 2016 incident implicating Morrow Equipment was filed in King County Superior Court on March 20, 2019. The plaintiffs names were withheld in filing documents in order to protect their privacy.

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