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Arguments in Manhattan crane collapse case emerge

A crane owner's attorney blames one of the workers killed in a 2008 Manhattan crane collapse for the disaster. Prosecutors say the owner tried to cut corners on worker safety, getting a cheap repair and deceiving inspectors.

That crucial repair later failed, causing the top section of the nearly 200-foot-high rig to come down in Manhattan's Upper East Side nearly four years ago.

The issues and arguments are sure to reemerge in a civil lawsuit in which surviving accident injury victims and families of victims killed in the collapse seek compensation for damages.

Prosecutors said the crane operator disobeyed building codes, industry standards and city inspection requirements. Perhaps his gravest error came when he got the critical crane turntable repaired and then hid the repaired component from city officials.

A month after the repaired turntable was put in place, the weld apparently failed, causing the giant crane's long arm to snap, rip into a nearby building and plummet to the ground.

The crane operator, 30, and a sewer company worker, 27, were killed in the accident.

"They were killed because one man valued his own profit over the safety of others," a prosecutor said in court.

The defense rejects the accusations, saying prosecutors misunderstood New York City building codes and construction industry standards. In fact, defense attorneys say, the crane owner informed officials of the repair and acted responsibly in getting the repair done.

A Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice will decide the case this week without a jury, according to reports.

Source: CBS: "Defense lawyer says NY crane owner hid nothing," April 20, 2012

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