Lawsuit Filed in 2014 Tower Death


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On February 1, 2014, a cell tower collapsed in Clarksburg, West Virginia, killing three people. Four contractors employed by SBA Communications were working to reinforce the tower when it failed killing two of the workers immediately. Four people were trapped when the tower fell, and a fireman was hit during rescue operations when a second, nearby tower collapsed. Officials confirmed the firefighter died as a result of his injuries. On February 4, 2014, SBA Communications spokesperson Lynne Hopkins provided a statement regarding the tower collapse, “Two towers collapsed while one was being worked on to permit additional tenant equipment to be added to one of the towers. The first tower collapsed, resulting in the death of two individuals and injuring two others. When the first tower collapsed, it compromised the second tower and the second tower collapsed, resulting in the death of a first responder. The project was contracted by SBA to an independent engineering firm, which in turn sub-contracted the work to S. and S. Communications Specialists, Inc., a firm based in Oklahoma.” In August 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined S&S Communication Specialists for $14,000 due to safety hazards.
Most recently, the mother of the Nutter Fort volunteer firefighter has sued five companies that were involved in working on the two towers that collapsed. The Exponent Telegram reported that the lawsuit also names the Summit Park Volunteer Fire Department and its former chief, Brenda Fragmin, as defendants. It cites a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health investigation that “identified an ineffective incident command on the part of Defendant Summit Park and Defendant Fragmin as one of the contributing factors.” The companies named as defendants are S&S Communications Specialists Inc. of Oklahoma; SBA Communications Corp. of Florida; and three other out-of-state firms, FDH Inc., FDH Engineering Inc., and FDH Velocitel. (The Exponent Telegram) The lawsuit filed claims that S&S Communications “didn’t have the engineering expertise to do the job safely and, alternatively, didn’t have the money to hire someone to instruct its workers, and SBA and FDH knew that.” (The Exponent Telegram) The lawsuit demands a trial, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

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