Michael and Colleen Simermeyer, the parents of Michael Simermeyer, a 30-year-old construction worker who was killed in a crane accident in April 2012, received a $1 million settlement in 2013 after they filed a wrongful death lawsuit over their son’s death. According to the lawsuit, Yonkers Contracting, the main contractor at an MTA construction project site, failed to inspect and properly maintain its crane on a routine basis. In April 2012, while the crane was moving a load, a steel cable used to move the crane’s boom suddenly snapped, causing the crane to collapse. Simermeyer was crushed to death by the falling crane. Although Yonkers Contracting agreed to the $1 million settlement, the company did not admit to any wrongdoing. The company maintains that it inspected the cable “at the beginning of every shift by licensed and properly trained personnel” as required by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
In October 2012, OSHA cited Yonkers Contracting with 10 serious safety violations as a result of the fatal accident. In addition, the agency fined the company $68,000. One violations includes failing to inspect the crane’s wire cables at the beginning of every work shift. OSHA also claims that the company did not perform monthly and annual cable inspections. In addition, the company was cited for allowing a worker to be inside of the crane’s fall zone. Moreover, OSHA officials stated that Yonkers Contracting failed to train the individual who was responsible for attaching loads to the crane. Yonkers Contracting also received other violations, including failing to keep the work zone free of fall hazards.
Commenting upon the violations, Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director for Manhattan, stated, “Fundamental, vital and required safety practices were not followed in this case, resulting in the most extreme consequence: the loss of a worker’s life. Had the proper procedures been followed, this incident and this worker’s death could have been prevented.”
Colleen Simermeyer stated that she was upset by the small fine that the company had to pay. She stated, “I feel that they got away with murdering my son. I don’t understand the justice of it…Yonkers is still operating and my son who was only 30 years old is gone. His hopes and his dreams can never be realized.”
At the time of the fatal accident, Simermeyer was employed by J&E Industires, a subcontractor on the construction site in the city. OSHA cited J&E Industries for one serious violation for allowing an employee to work in the fall zone of the crane. In addition, the company was also fined $7,000.
Yonkers Contracting has been cited by OSHA for safety violations, including one which involved a construction worker who fell to his death while working on a bridge.
EXCLUSIVE: Parents of construction worker killed in crane accident given $1 million settlement, NY Daily News, Greg B. Smith, August 20, 2013