Mistrial Declared in Crane Case After Crash

NEW YORK (AP) -

On the sixth anniversary of a deadly construction crane collapse in Manhattan, two slain workers’ families watched Friday as a judge declared a mistrial in a wrongful-death case, saying it couldn’t proceed with the crane owner hospitalized — injured in a car crash his lawyers disclosed only after the trial opened.

Opening statements had been underway for days when James Lomma’s lawyers asked Thursday to halt the trial, saying he had been severely hurt in a wreck before jury selection concluded last week. Attorneys for the workers’ families pushed to continue the trial, but Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez said Friday he felt he had no choice but to stop it.

Lomma suffered multiple fractures in a multi-car wreck May 20, was hospitalized immediately, has had several surgeries and isn’t expected to be able to come to court for two to three months, Mendez said after seeing a police accident report and talking to Lomma’s surgeon.

“It is only fair to allow Mr. Lomma … to be present at trial,” Mendez said, saying Lomma had been “incapacitated through no acts of his own.” He set a new trial date of Sept. 9.

He declined pleas from the workers’ relatives — some of whom had flown in from Kosovo — to keep the trial going and see how Lomma progressed.