Firm Cited In Crane Collapse Appealing Fines; Parents Outraged

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The parents of South Beach native killed in a Manhattan crane collapse in April are in shock after the contractor announced it would file an appeal of a $68,000 federal fine for safety violations, according to the couple’s lawyer.

Colleen and Michael Simermeyer were initially stunned by the small penalty meted out to the Yonkers Contracting Company by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

They are now outraged that the company has decided to fight “the slap on the wrist” rather than take responsibility.

“Imagine being Colleen and Michael Simermeyer and first being told that your dead son’s life was worth so little and then learning that the contractor was not only appealing the decision, but publicly claiming it has a “solid” safety record,” said David L. Kwass of Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky.

“Clearly, Yonkers is a callous and irresponsible company that hasn’t reviewed its own checkered history.”

Simermeyer was killed when the boom of a 170-foot crane fell and broke apart at the site where the Metropolitan Transit Authority was working to extend the No. 7 line west of Times Square.

He was working the night shift; his father worked a day shift.

OSHA announced last week that it cited Yonkers Contracting with 10 violations, and were subjecting the company and a subcontractor with a total of $75,000 in proposed fines.

The agency said the company didn’t perform required inspections of wire ropes, including those used to hoist the crane boom that fell and broke apart while the machine was hauling rebar.

Yonkers Contracting disputed the charges and planned to challenge them in an administrative hearing, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

“We disagree with these preliminary findings and are prepared to defend ourselves…,” Heather Cuffel, the company’s director of development, said in a statement to the Journal.

“For example, we will show that the wire rope used for hoisting materials was inspected at the beginning of every shift by licensed and properly trained personnel. It should also be noted that there were no findings of any willful negligent conduct on our part.”

“Yonkers Contracting has a solid safety record,” she said in the statement. “Since the accident, we have done a thorough review of safety procedures at all of our worksites and taken steps to further ensure that all requirements are followed.”

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