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Rigger Cleared of Criminal Charges: Awaits Dozens of Civil Suits

Master rigger William Rapetti was cleared of seven counts of manslaughter in a non-jury trial on July 22, 2010. While criminal charges have been cleared, Rapetti still faces numerous civil lawsuits.

Rapetti was charged for his involvement in the fatal accident in March 2008 when a 300-foot tower crane collapsed in Manhattan, New York. Six workers and a tourist from Florida were killed and two dozen others were injured. Rapetti's company, Rapetti Rigging Inc., was also cleared of all charges.

The prosecution claimed the collapse was caused by Rapetti Rigging Inc.'s sparse and damaged equipment. The defense's investigation found the collapse was due to a poorly welded tie-in beam on the building under construction, which Rapetti had no control over.

Rapetti still faces dozens of civil suits and at least 112 claims totaling $420 million have been filed against New York City.

The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Liability

In a criminal suit, a party is brought to court to upon being charged with a crime. To be found guilty of a crime, the jury or judge must find the case against the defendant to be "beyond reasonable doubt". Those charged as guilty of a crime in a criminal suit usually are penalized with monetary fines or imprisonment.

In a civil suit, a party files a claim to collect damages from another party for either emotional or physical injury. In civil suits, the burden of proof is known as the "balance of probability", which is much lower than that in criminal suits.

Have You Suffered a Work Related Injury?

If you have suffered a work related injury and have missed work or have unpaid medical bills, you could be entitled to financial help. Contact an attorney with experience in workers' compensation immediately.

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