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Jury awards $47.8 million in NYC crane collapse civil case

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City jury on Thursday awarded $47.8 million to the families of two men killed in 2008 when a construction crane collapsed.

The jury ordered James Lomma, the owner of the crane, and his companies to pay $32 million to the family of Ramadan Kurtaj and $15.8 million to the family of Donald Leo.

In the May 2008 collapse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, parts of a 200-foot-tall crane snapped off and fell. Leo was operating the crane when it collapsed and he fell to his death. Kurtaj was underneath and was crushed.

The families’ attorneys say Lomma was responsible because he allowed an inferior repair to the crane. Lomma’s attorneys say others were at fault, including operator Leo.

Lomma’s attorney did not immediately respond to a call and email from The Associated Press on Thursday seeking comment.

Lomma was acquitted of manslaughter and other criminal charges in 2012.

Mechanic Tibor Varganyi, who had arranged the crane repair, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide. Varganyi was sentenced to a year of community service.

The trial got underway in October. It had initially started in May 2014, but was postponed after Lomma was seriously hurt in a car crash, suffering multiple fractures.

The crane collapsed two months after another crane fell apart in midtown and killed seven people. Together, the accidents stirred concern about crane safety and led to a roster of new regulations.

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