Gray•Duffy, LLP Aggressive Negotiations Lead to a $295,000 Settlement in Crane Accident at Wind Farm For Damages of Approximately $1.2 Million

September 2013

Overview

Matt Shorr of Gray•Duffy’s Encino office settled a $1.2 million subrogation claim brought by Lloyd’s of London, Zurich North America Insurance Co., and ACE Insurance Company against the firm’s client, Consolidated Crane and Rigging. The matter was settled for $295,000 which was less than 25 percent of the actual damages sustained when a crane tipped over during the construction of a wind turbine generator (WTG) at a wind energy farm.

Discussion

Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London v. Consolidated Crane & Rigging, Inc.

Alta Wind I, LLC hired Wind Energy Construction to install wind turbine generators (WTG) for a large 1,020 megawatt wind farm. Wind Energy Construction subcontracted KR Wind, Inc., a subsidiary of a large international lifting firm based out of Denmark and the Netherlands. The crane used for the installation was rented from Maxim Crane, LLC, and operated by the firm’s client, Consolidated Crane and Rigging, a subcontractor to KR Wind.

The crane tipped over during a lift of a WTG base tower weighing approximately 145,000 pounds due to a sudden wind gust which pushed the load outside of the crane’s lifting radius and operating capacity. The crane and base tower were a total loss and caused damage to the foundation and other components of the WTG. The alleged damages were $1.2 million plus pre-judgment interest.

Consolidated Crane contended the general contractor and KR Wind were well aware of the lifting capacity and limits of the crane, which was furnished to perform the lifts, but chose nevertheless to proceed with its use, despite the suggestion from Consolidate Crane to use a higher capacity crane for these lifts. Discovery further showed that KR Wind had prepared all pre-lift planning, lifting plans and had furnished the lift director who made the decision to proceed knowing the windy conditions. Discovery also showed that the undercarriage of the crane had significant pre-existing damage and frame cracks which compromised the lifting capacity of the crane, unbeknownst to the firm’s client.
Thus, there were a number of factors which contributed to the accident.

Several mediation sessions were held between the parties. The case ultimately settled prior to trial for $295,000.

Please Note: This article is necessarily general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice with respect to any particular case. Readers should consult with an attorney before taking any action affecting their interests.