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Fatal Deutsche Bank Fire Trial: Construction Supervisors Acquitted

While fatal construction accidents in New York City are fairly common, rarely do they result in criminal charges against the responsible parties. However, the horrific consequences of a construction error at the Deutsche Bank building prompted prosecutors to seek criminal convictions against three construction supervisors.

The prosecution sought manslaughter charges against construction supervisors deemed responsible for the removal of a large section of standpipe from the Deutsche Bank building. The decision to remove the standpipe - without replacing or moving it - caused the death of two NYC firefighters roughly a year later.

The firemen were in the basement of the Deutsche Bank fighting a blaze in Aug. 2007, when the missing standpipe prevented the men from quickly getting water on the fire. Consequentially, the two heroes lost their lives.

The Manhattan district attorney's office strongly considered naming NYC as a defendant but opted not to because of concerns over governmental immunity. Nonetheless, the government racked up $5.7 million in legal fees during the investigation and trial spanning nearly three years. The Fire and Buildings Department also endured heavy criticism, as a thorough inspection could have revealed the safety hazard.

While the Deutsche Bank fire is an unusual accident, construction errors and safety oversight cost construction workers their health - or even lives - each year in New York. Most fatal construction site accidents involve falls from heights (such as scaffolding or ladders), falling objects, trench collapses or improper excavation. Construction accident injuries and deaths usually occur when a safety measure has been disregarded or overlooked.

If you have been seriously injured in a workplace accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss what claims you may have, inside and outside of the workers' compensation system.

Source: The New York Times, "Final Defendant Acquitted in Deutsche Bank Fire," John Eligon, July 6, 2011.

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