- The families of two people killed when a crane collapsed at a Google construction site in Seattle last April have filed wrongful death lawsuits in Washington's King County Superior Court for unspecified damages, The Seattle Times reported. Alan Justad, 71, and Sarah Wong, 19, were killed in the incident along with the two ironworkers who were working on the crane at the time that it fell.
- The crane toppled over onto the street below as crews were dismantling it using the ill-advised method of removing all of the crane's pins at once instead of section by section. Justad's and Wong's families are suing crane owner Morrow Equipment, general contractor GLY Construction, Northwest Tower Crane Service, Omega Morgan and Seaburg Construction, all of which allegedly had some responsibility for safe crane operations.
- Two individuals injured in the collapse have also filed suit against the same companies, and the families of the two crane workers killed on that day are expected to do the same.
In October, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) cited and fined three of the contractors named in the Justad and Wong lawsuits — Morrow, GLY and Northwest — for their roles in the collapse. The agency found that the crews tasked with dismantling the crane paid no heed to manufacturer's instructions and that removing all the pins and sleeves at once weakened the crane and allowed it to fall when hit by a 45-mph gust of wind on April 27.
For approving the pins' removal, L&I fined Morrow $70,000. The agency also fined GLY $25,200 for failure to have qualified workers on the jobsite while the crane was being torn down; for not ensuring that the personnel on site that day followed manufacturers' instructions; and for not taking into account the effect that windy weather could have on crane removal.
Finally, L&I fined Northwest Tower Crane Services $12,000 for not following manufacturer's instructions, for not making sure their workers fully understood the task at hand and for not training its workers properly.
Soon after L&I's announcement, Stever Frein, lead crane instructor at West Coast Training in Woodland, Washington, told Construction Dive that it's not unusual for crews to take such a shortcut when dismantling a crane, as they’re often trying to save time. In fact, it's so common for some companies to remove all the pins at once, he said, that some workers might be under the impression that it's standard, acceptable procedure.
The crane accident, however, did not delay Google's planned opening of its new five-building campus in the South Lake Union area of Seattle. Three buildings have already opened, and the building where the crane fell is expected to open this month.