The Real Deal New York

Extell faces default judgment in One57 wrongful death suit

Construction worker’s wife claims developer has failed to respond to court action

July 08, 2013 05:30PM
By Mark Maurer

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one57-lawsuit

From left: Gary Barnett, One57 (center) and Camille Fortunato (Fortunato credit: Statia Grossman)

Extell Development and Lend Lease Construction, the developer and builder of One57, respectively, are facing a default judgment in a lawsuit filed by the wife of an electrician who died after an accident at the luxury tower’s construction site.

Maria Caminiti, the administrator of the estate of her late husband, Pasquale Caminiti, sued Gary Barnett’s Extell and Lend Lease this past January in New York State Supreme Court. She claimed that her husband was struck by a falling object at the site of the 1,005-foot skyscraper, at 157 West 157th Street, in January 2012.

A resident of Middletown, N.J., he died at age 53 last year, though it was not immediately clear how long after the accident.

Maria Caminiti accused the companies of negligence and sought unspecified compensation for medical expenses and physical and emotional damages.

On June 25, Maria Caminiti’s attorney, Camille Fortunato of Fortunato & Fortunato, asked the court for a default judgment, a type of relief where a judge rules in favor of a plaintiff if the defendant does not respond to the lawsuit.

“The defendants have now all failed to timely answer the supplemental summons and amended complaint, despite two courtesy letters and several phone calls to obtain same,” Maria Caminiti’s motion said.

However, it appears the defendants did respond. Law firm Fabiani Cohen & Hall, which represents Extell and Lend Lease, denied responsibility for the incident, in a statement included as an exhibit with Maria Caminiti’s request.

In the letter, the companies asserted that any damages were the result of Pasquale Caminiti’s own negligence and carelessness. Additionally, he was working as an independent contractor, meaning that Extell and Lend Lease did not exercise control over his actions, the firm wrote.

Justice Eileen Rakower is slated to review the request July 17.

Extell was party to a contract with Pasquale Caminiti’s employer, Five Star Electric, for construction, renovation and repair work on the site, the lawsuit said.

Neither Extell, Lend Lease nor Five Star Electric could be reached for comment.

One57, which remains under construction, will be the city’s tallest residential tower until 432 Park Avenue, a 1,396-foot condominium tower, arrives. As of late May, about 70 percent of the 92 units at One57 were under contract, many of them for eight-figure sums, as previously reported.

Another issue plaguing One57’s construction was the dangling crane boom that forced a weeklong area evacuation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy last fall. Six months after the incident, construction workers raised a replacement crane to the top of the site.

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