Winning a wrongful death claim is supposed to be the last step of a process that's already long and traumatic enough for the families of those who have died in a construction accident. However, sometimes wealthy defendants use every trick they can to avoid paying up -- which drags out the suffering for the victims' families even longer.
That's what the families of two men killed in a crane collapse in 2008 are enduring at the hands of the self-described "Crane King," James Lomma.
According to Lomma, he's bankrupt and unable to pay the $96 million dollar verdict awarded the families of the two men killed when one of his cranes collapsed on a New York construction project. According to the victims' attorneys, Lomma is personally worth around $200 million and doing everything he can to avoid paying up.
The construction magnate filed bankruptcy just one day after the families of the men who were crushed to death tried to collect on their verdict. He filed a total of four Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases for himself and three of his companies.
However, his move wasn't entirely unexpected. The attorneys for the victims' families were already watching Lomma and have accused him of moving assets into a company he set up in his daughter's name. They moved quickly to slap liens on some of his equipment, a bank account and a brokerage account.
They also flat out accuse him of bankruptcy fraud, claiming that he's not disclosed all of his company holdings to the court.
While the Crane King is appealing the wrongful death verdicts, the judge in his case has forced him to pledge millions of dollars of assets to the families of his victims and put $1 million a month into an escrow account until the appeal is settled.
Situations like this show the lengths that some defendants will go to in order to avoid paying victims or their families what they are due. It also shows how quick action on the part of a plaintiff's attorney can stop them from abusing the court system any further.
If you've been injured in a construction accident or are the close relative of someone that was killed in one, consider contacting an attorney in order to protect your right to compensation.
Source: New York Post, "'Crane King' who hasn't paid accident victim's families worth $200M: lawyers," Julia Marsh, March 21, 2017