A construction worker and his wife have filed a lawsuit in a Florida state court against the builders erecting the $22 million Miami Dade College parking garage that collapsed in October 2012, killing four other workers. Juan Carlos Fernandez and his wife Ivonne Munoz are seeking damages for injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder, suffered by the worker as a result of the collapse. Fernandez was working on the second floor of the garage approximately five feet from the section that collapsed. Shortly before the incident, Fernandez was in the location where the garage collapsed.
The suit claims negligence and gross negligence against the general contractor and several other defendants, including engineering and architectural companies. Two subcontractors that were hired to erect the precast concrete slabs and concrete building components of the structure were also named as defendants. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had levied thousands of dollars in penalties for multiple violations, including columns not being properly braced or inspected.
The filing of this lawsuit is the latest development arising from the Oct. 10, 2012, accident at Miami Dade College’s West Campus in Doral, Fla. Some of the workers were crushed under the collapsing concrete, according to news reports. One worker died in a hospital after being trapped in the rubble for 17 hours. The body of another worker, an electrician, was recovered from the garage nine days after the collapse. The families of the four workers killed and five of the injured in early May reached a confidential settlement in their lawsuits.
In those cases, the Plaintiffs claimed that the general contractors decision to use a cheaper precast concrete construction method caused the collapse and also that Ajax’s inspectors should not have let workers back into the garage after a crane accident two days before the collapse compromised the structure. Fernandez, who was employed as a plumber and heavy machine operator, cites the crane accident in his complaint and the decision by the defendants’ inspectors to allow the site to re-open even though the area where the collapse would occur was unstable and a crane was being used to place a beam there.
It is customary in the type of construction that was being done to use temporary attachments to hold precast concrete components in place before they are permanently secured through bolting, welding, tying or cast-in-place concrete, Fernandez’s suit says. At the time of the collapse, he claims, the pieces had not yet been fully secured. The suit alleged:
The condition of not securing the multiton components as described above, especially in light of the inspections defendants conducted before and after the crane impacted the garage, was virtually certain to result in injury or death to those on the construction site, including the plaintiff.
The Plaintiffs in the recently filed case are represented by Herman J. Russomanno and Robert J. Borrello of the Miami firm Russomanno & Borrello. The case is Fernandez et al. v. Ajax Building Corp. Inc. et al. in the Circuit Court for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida.
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