“King of Cranes” James Lomma declares bankruptcy

He owes Azure collapse victims’ families $96 million

James Lomma and Susan Karten
James Lomma and Susan Karten

James Lomma, the self-styled “King of Cranes” – who was ordered to pay $96 million to the families of two of men killed at a construction site – filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Wednesday.

The New York Crane and Equipment Corporation owner initiated four separate proceedings, for himself and three of his companies.

Lomma owned the crane that collapsed in 2008 at the site of the Azure condominium at 33 East 91st Street, killing Donald Leo and Ramadan Kurtaj, who were working on the site.

Susan Karten, an attorney representing their families, condemned Lomma, accusing of him of trying to avoid paying damages.

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“Today, once again, James Lomma has done everything in his power to manipulate the system in his ongoing efforts to deprive the Kurtaj and Leo families of justice and closure in the death of their loved ones,” she told the New York Post.

Last month, Karten accused Lomma of trying to transfer some of his companies’ assets to another firm owned by his daughter, Jennifer Gabel, a former cosmetics firm manager, to avoid paying the judgement.

Court documents listed the value of Lomma’s assets as between $4 million and $40 million, and of his debts as between $40 million and $200 million.

He owns a home on Staten Island worth $1 million, a $300,000 home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with a $500,000 airplane, the Post reported. In addition to the damages, Lomma reportedly owes $7.8 million to a business parter, $3 million to an aviation finance company, plus $300,000 in back taxes.

In October, a judge rejected Lomma’s contractor licence renewal application, citing his “poor moral character.” [NYP]Ariel Stulberg