CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE.
On April 26, 2023, a jury in Dallas County found Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. was not negligent after a construction crane owned by Bigge collapsed on the Elan City Lights Apartments in Old East Dallas and killed Kiersten Smith, a 29-year-old woman. The jury instead found that liability rested with Greystar Development & Construction, LP, Greystar Development & Construction, LP – Gabriella Tower Contractor Series, and Gabriella Tower, LLC,, and ordered those defendants to pay $860 million to the family of the victim.
The incident occurred in June 2019 as the city was hit by a massive storm that created winds of up to 70 mph. At the time, Greystar was building the Gabriella Tower in east Dallas. The tower crane collapsed during the storm and crashed into the Elan City Lights building, killing Smith and injuring others.
One of the key issues in the case was whether Bigge or Greystar was responsible for inspecting the crane and for the actions of the crane operator, who had worked more than 80 hours that week and who the plaintiffs alleged neglected to place the crane in proper weathervane mode. The attorneys for Bigge established that, by contract and conduct, Greystar controlled and was responsible for the crane’s operator and for ensuring that the crane was properly inspected. The jury agreed.
After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated for seven hours before reaching its verdict.
Michele Williams, individually and on behalf of the Estate of Kiersten Smith et al. v. Bigge Crane and Rigging Co., Greystar Development & Construction, LP, and Gabriella Tower, LLC
Plaintiffs were represented by Jason A. Itkin, Alexandra Poulson of Arnold & Itkin LLP and Michael P. Lyons of Lyons & Simmons LLP.
Greystar and Gabriella Tower were represented by Christopher C. White, Katherine A. Compton and Dana Alden Fox of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.
Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. was represented by Clayton J. Callen and Courtney Kenisky of Bowman and Brooke LLP.