The negligence of a contractor caused the death of a construction worker in Poughkeepsie in 2017. Maximiliano Saban died and another of his colleague suffered personal injury after a wall collapsed on them.
The wall collapsed because the contractor, Finbar O-Neil who owns OneKey LLC, did not follow OSHA safety rules. O-Neil had to implement a soil compacting plan involving piling large quantities of dirt called surcharges on top of the construction sites of 3 buildings. An engineering company prepared the plan on how to use the surcharges. However to gain time, O-Neil decided that, instead of following the plan, he would build a wall that would retain one of the surcharges so that workers could start to work on the building next to it. He made the decision on his own without consulting with engineers to know if the wall would sustain the surcharges.
On the day of the accident, some construction workers complained that construction machines were on the top of the surcharges adding dirt to it. Later on during the day, Maximiliano and a colleague were working next to the wall when it collapsed. They both ran away but Maximiliano was unable to escape.
When workers warned the negligent contractor about a potential collapse he replied that he didn’t care
O-Neil was told several times by workers including the superintendent, that the wall could collapse and kill someone. O-Neil was heard replying that he didn’t care. O-Neil is facing six months in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 and his company faces a fine of up to $500,000.
O-Neil also faced criminal accusations in New York in the past. 20 years ago he pleaded guilty in a Bronx parking money laundering operation and he was also indicted for corruption charges in a scheme that stole millions of dollars form the carpenter’s union and its benefit funds.
O-Neil company and the sub-contractor who employed Maximiliano Saban previously settled a wrongful death claim for an undisclosed amount with the widow of Mr. Saban.
Read more in the New York Times
Picture of the fatal construction accident: courtesy of OSHA