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Civil Suit Begins Against Crane Company Owner In Deadly 2008 Collapse

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Opening statements began Friday in the wrongful death lawsuit against a crane company, its owner, and others in connection with the death of two workers in New York City.

“I will never get my son back. My loss is forever,” said Maria Leo.

As CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport reported, Donald Leo’s mother said she wants justice for the 30-year-old crane operator who was killed in the may 2008 crane collapse on 91st Street and First Avenue.

Leo and 27-year-old site construction worker Ramadan Kurtaj both died that day.

“We’re suffering. We’re in pain. It’s just a horrible time,” said Xhevahire Sinanaj, Kurtaj’s cousin.

Two years ago the owner of the NY Crane and Equipment Company, James Lomma, was acquitted on all criminal charges in connection with the collapse.

Prosecutors said that same crane had been damaged in 2006 at a different site and the collapse occurred because Lomma OK’d a cheap replacement part of inferior quality.

Now, a civil lawsuit has begun. The families of the victims are suing Lomma, his company, as well as several other companies and agencies in connection with the deaths of their loved ones.

During the opening statements, the Leo family’s attorney told the jury “cranes are not supposed to fall from the sky,” and that “failure to follow every industry standard put other people’s lives in jeopardy.”

The trial is set to resume on Tuesday. The judge in the case issued a gag order on the lawyers, so they won’t be talking to the media, Rapoport reported.

Lomma was not present at the trial Friday.

The defense is expected to give its opening statements on Tuesday.

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