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2nd lawsuit announced in fatal construction site accident at UChicago Medical Center

The second lawsuit, currently pending, also seeks monetary damages

NBC Universal, Inc.

Attorneys representing the families of two men who fell 100 feet from scaffolding during high winds at a construction site at the University of Chicago Medical Center have announced a second lawsuit will soon be filed.

On Monday, attorneys with GWC Injury Lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jeffrey A. Spyrka, and also plan to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the family of David O’Donnell, who died in the fall.

At the time of the fall, according to attorney Louis Cairo, a wind monitor on a tower crane recorded wind speeds of 44 miles per hour.

"This [scaffolding] was designed that if properly constructed, based upon the design, it would withstand wind forces of 80 miles per hour," Cairo said.

"It wasn’t properly constructed," he said during a news conference announcing the second, pending lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges two construction companies, Turner Construction Company and Adjustable Forms Inc., failed to take appropriate safety measures to ensure the scaffolding was properly secured.

According to the lawsuit, the companies, "failed to make reasonable inspections," and "failed to warn the workmen on the site, including the Plaintiff, of the risk of severe winds that were imminent."

It goes on to say the defendants, "failed to provide a safe and properly constructed scaffolding or alternate suitable means of working on the exterior of the building at significant heights."

Spyrka, 36, is a husband and father of three. The ironworker was severely injured in the fall but survived.

"He is stable, but in critical condition," Cairo said.

"He’s had devastating internal injuries as a result of his fall. His pelvis was completely shattered. As a result of that shatter, a lot of the bone fragments affected his organs."

O'Donnell, 27, a technical engineer, did not survive his injuries.

"The harms and the losses suffered by both of these families, Jeff physically, his wife emotionally, the poor O’Donnell family losing a son and a brother, the damages are unimaginable," Cairo Sr said.

The lawsuit filed Monday, as well as the second pending lawsuit, both seek monetary damages.

Cairo said the second lawsuit will be filed when a special administrator is appointed by the court to handle the estate.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirms it is investigating the companies named in the lawsuit and the employers of the workers involved.

OSHA said it will release its findings within six months.

A statement to NBC Chicago from Adjustable Forms Inc. reads as follows:

“We are aware of the recent filings and continue to be deeply saddened to learn of this accident. We offer our sincerest condolences to the loved ones of those affected. Safety is integral to what we do, and Adjustable Concrete is partnering with Turner Construction to support a full investigation into this matter alongside the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We are deeply grateful for the University of Chicago Medical Center doctors and all first responders involved.”

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