“King of Cranes” to pay $96M to victims of Azure collapse

James Lomma found partially responsible for the fatal accident
August 03, 2015 03:25PM

Found liable for the 2008 crane collapse that left two construction workers dead, a Manhattan jury ordered crane magnate James Lomma to pay an additional $48 million to the victims’ families, bringing the total payout to $96 million.

Susan Karten, the lawyer for Ramadan Kurtaj, one of the victims of the Azure condiminium accident, called the judgment, “a much needed message to both Mr. Lomma and the construction industry at large.” 

Contractors who use faulty equipment will be punished and receive swift punishments, she said. The jury last week ordered Lomma, found 61 percent liable for the fatal accident, to pay $48 million to families.

The New York Daily News reported that Lomma will personally have to pay $29 million in punitive damages. His companies, James Lomma LLC and New York Crane and Equipment Corporation, will pay the remainder.

Kurtaj and Donald Leo were killed after the 200-foot-tall crane, owned by Lomma, snapped and fell to the ground at 33 East 91st Street. A critical piece of the crane was damaged and not properly repaired. Lomma was “greedy” when he outsourced the repairs to China, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued.

Lomma was acquitted of all criminal charges related to the incident in 2012, when his attorneys successfully argued the accident was caused by Leo, the crane operator. – Ariel Stulberg