Manhattan, New York
A Manhattan judge this morning upheld the manslaughter indictment against crane company owner James Frank Lomma, meaning charges that he recklessly caused a fatal 2008 collapse by putting a cheaply-refurbed crane in service on East 91st Street can now proceed to trial later this year.
Lomma, 65, and his former mechanic, Tibor Varganyi, 64, are charged in the case, along with Lomma’s companies, New York Crane and Equipment and J.F. Lomma Inc.
The defendants had sought to have the indictment tossed; the judge said he would issue a written decision at a later time.
The collapse, which killed two workers, has been blamed on the failure of a cheaply-done weld in the crane’s pivoting joint — which connects the cab and the boom and allows it to pivot.
The cab plummeted 20 stories to the ground with the driver, Donald Leo, 30, trapped inside, crushing him and another worker on the ground, Ramadan Kurtij, 27.
“I want to thank him for showing today — what’s the word I’m looking for — the sensitivity to acknowledge that we were in the audience,” Leo’s mother, Maria, 51, of Staten Island, said after the court case of Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber.
“I was fearing the worst — today I feel a little more confident that he will do his job,” she said of the judge.