Miami contractor sues crane firm for $45K hurricane damage
- A Miami contractor is suing a Pennsylvania crane company for $45,000 claiming that the tower crane it rented was delivered in subpar condition and failed when Hurricane Irma hit South Florida in September, according to the Miami Herald.
- L&R Structural Corp., which was working on a 31-story downtown Miami residential high-rise when Irma struck, alleges in its complaint that the arms of a tower crane supplied by Maxim Crane Works snapped under the stress of 99-mile-per-hour wind gusts even though the equipment can usually withstand 145-mile-per-hour winds. L&R said that Maxim refused to repair or provide assistance in moving the crane after Irma passed, so the contractor had to bear the expense itself or be subject to $200,000-per day fines from the city and Miami-Dade County.
- Maxim argued that, under the rental agreement, L&R is responsible for any damages to the equipment, including those caused by weather. The contractor countered that Maxim should pay because the agreement exempts the renter from liability if there are "latent manufacturing defects."
In the days before Hurricane Irma's arrival in Florida, eyes were on the more than two dozen cranes erected throughout Miami that could not be dismantled before the storm hit. City and county officials braced for the possibility that the cranes could come down and cause significant damage to surrounding buildings, but that never came to pass. Some crane booms, as in the case of the Maxim crane, did make contact with structures but the damage they did was minimal.
While a program of proper maintenance and inspections will go a long way toward keeping cranes operating safely, adequate insurance can offer contractors a layer of protection as well. Jake Morin, niche president of construction at ProSight Specialty Insurance, told Construction Dive back in 2016 that general liability insurance will cover damage caused by a crane but that it's important to carry crane-specific insurance as well. Riggers Liability, he said, covers damage to and damage caused by items the crane is moving, and Inland Marine covers any damage to the crane itself.
Western wildfires, Gulf Coast hurricanes and other destructive weather events bombarded the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico last year, and many areas are still on the path to recovery. About 25% of Puerto Rico residents were still without power as of Feb. 11, but the restoration efforts have been plagued with equipment failures and outages, KVUE reported. In addition, the rebuilding efforts in California and Houston will reportedly take years given that contractors were already stretched thin on skilled labor before catastrophic events hit.
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