Lendlease disputes city’s penalty in 2018 death at Central Park Tower

Construction company filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn violation

Jan.January 23, 2020 08:00 AM
Central Park Tower

Central Park Tower

After a glass panel fell from Central Park Tower and fatally crushed a 67-year-old security guard two years ago, the Department of Buildings filed several violations against general contractor Lendlease. Now, after successfully appealing most of the violations, the construction company wants the remaining penalty to also be dismissed.

Lendlease filed a petition against the DOB and the Office of Administration Trials and Hearings Tuesday, alleging that it was wrongfully penalized for “failing to safeguard” 217 West 57th Street on May 26, 2018. On that day, a 2,300-pound plate glass panel fell from the luxury tower and struck security guard Harry Ramnauth. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The construction company argues that OATH wrongfully upheld a violation, along with a $25,000 fine, for failing to safeguard the public from construction activity at Extell Development’s tower. Lendlease claims that as a security guard employed at the building, Ramnauth was not a “member of the public.” The company also alleges that the violation was issued as a result of a follow-up inspection the DOB conducted three days after the incident. The agency, therefore, “had no personal knowledge of the alleged incident or the conditions which existed on the incident date,” according to the petition.

Representatives for the DOB and Lendlease declined to comment.

Earlier this month, Ramnauth’s family agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit against Lendlease, contractor Pinnacle Industries and Extell for $1.25 million, court documents show. The settlement has not yet been approved by a judge. In New York, family members file wrongful death claims to collect damages for the loss of support (including financial) represented by their relative’s death. Additional damages can be awarded under state statute only if it can be proven that the deceased was conscious and suffered before their death, which is extremely difficult to establish. According to court documents, the suggested settlement is a result of the wrongful death claim in the case.

“This was the best result under the circumstances, under our current law,” Matthew Haicken, an attorney for Ramnauth’s family, told The Real Deal.

Extell launched sales at the tower, considered the most expensive in the city’s history at a projected $4 billion sellout, in October 2018.

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