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Family of worker killed in Adams County power plant collapse files wrongful death lawsuit

Family of worker killed in Adams County power plant collapse files wrongful death lawsuit
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 3:37 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2021 at 3:59 PM EST
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ADAMS COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - The family of a worker who died in the collapse of a southern Ohio power plant last year has filed a lawsuit against more than 21 defendants including the demolition companies and some key employees.

Jamie Fitzgerald was one of several Adamo Group workers inside the Killen Generating Station when it collapsed on Dec. 9, 2020.

Fitzgerald and Clyde “Doug” Gray were killed. Three other workers, including Travis Miller, survived.

It took crews nearly a month to sift through the rubble and recover Fitzgerald’s body.

“Jamie Fitzgerald was buried under the collapsed steel and concrete. As a result of this collapse, Jamie Fitzgerald was caused to suffer extreme injuries, extreme mental anguish, extreme emotional distress, and untimely death as more fully hereinafter described,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit alleges that Adamo and others “intentionally and deliberately set in motion a demolition sequence that they knew with substantial certainty would endanger the lives of workers and specifically knew would endanger James Fitzgerald who was assigned and required to work in the zone of danger.”

The lawsuit filed by the family also accuses Adamo Group and the other defendants of the following:

  • Deliberate intent caused the uncontrolled and intentionally dangerous collapse
  • Intentional destruction of evidence
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress against all defendants
  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress against the defendant
  • Spoliation of evidence against all defendants
  • Negligence against defendants

“Instead of preparing the buildings for a safe and planned implosion, (The Defendants) took extraordinary steps to excessively weaken and destabilize the structure. “Despite knowing the building had become unsafe and on the verge of inevitable and imminent collapse, (The Defendants) instructed James Fitzgerald to enter and continue to weaken the structure,” the lawsuit alleges.

The Fitzgerald family is seeking damages and a jury trial.

Blake Fromang, who is representing Fitzgerald’s family, says the men should have never been inside this building.

“There were signs,” explains Fromang. “There were warning signs, twisted metal coming from the boiler room and the structure and there was every sign that this was going to happen. It wasn’t just a failure on December 9th, 2020 it was days and weeks leading up when they knew it was too dangerous to send people like James Fitzgerald in there.”

This is the second lawsuit filed in connection with the Dec. 9, 2020, power plant collapse.

On Wednesday, Miller filed suit against Adamo Demolition Company and SCM Engineer Demolition Inc.

Miller lost both of his legs in the collapse.

“Travis Miller now lacks the ability to care for himself and will never resume his chosen profession and earn the livelihood he previously enjoyed,” the lawsuit states.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration previously investigated the collapse and cited both demolition groups.

OSHA said in a news release earlier this year they cited both companies for multiple safety violations on the demolition project, including violations of the general duty clause and failing to inspect the site regularly to detect potential hazards resulting from the demolition process, such as weakened or deteriorated floors, walls and loosened material.

OSHA also determined that the companies allowed employees to continue working under hazardous conditions without adding shoring, bracing, or other means to steady the structure and failed to train them on identifying potential hazards.

Adamo was ordered to pay more than $180,000 in penalties and SCM Engineering paid more than $12,000.

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