2 crane companies ordered to pay $150M in Seattle deadly crane collapse verdict

A jury in King County returned a $150 million verdict against two crane companies involved in the deadly 2019 crane collapse in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood. 

The money will go to the surviving victims and the two families of victims who died. The jury also found crane operators Omega Morgan Sarens and Northwest Tower Crane Service primarily responsible for the collapse, despite Omega denying responsibility.

The crane collapse occurred on April 27, 2019 when teams from Omega and Northwest Tower were in the process of disassembling a tower crane when it toppled over onto Mercer Street. The collapse killed Alan Justad, a 71-year-old city planning official, and Sarah Wong, a 19-year-old Seattle Pacific University student, along with ironworkers Andrew Yoder, 31, and Travis Corbet, 33. 

The $150 million verdict comes after a six-week trial.

"We’re grateful to members of the jury for enforcing the law and holding Omega responsible. Hopefully, this will also bring some closure for the families and individuals hurt by this preventable collapse," said David Beninger of Luvera Law Firm, who represented one of the victim's families.

"Nothing can replace our beloved father, Alan Justad, or ease the unthinkable heartbreak that this preventable tragedy has caused our family and so many others. To the city our dad was many things – leader, civil servant, University of Washington alumni and lifelong Seattleite. But to us, his daughters, he was simply our best friend," Marika, Jade and Miro Justad, daughters of Alan Justad said in a statement. "This verdict is a victory for accountability. We are deeply grateful to members of the jury for their thoughtful consideration and deliberation, and for sending a crystal-clear message that companies absolutely must put safety first to protect the lives of our community members."

Investigations by experts in crane safety and construction found that Omega and Northwest Tower failed to take basic precautions to keep structural pins in place, monitor wind and other weather conditions, and more. 

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