When a Crane collapsed at a construction site in New York in 2008, many were quick to blame anyone and everyone involved in the project. One such company was a Concrete Company who had leased a crane and was building the superstructure. During the construction phase the crane malfunctioned and collapsed; killing two workers and injuring others. The owner, the general contractor, the crane owner and the company using the crane, as well as others, were sued and brought suit against each other for various contractual breaches as well as for the personal injuries and wrongful death. The Concrete Company, who was operating the crane, was forced to pay over $6 million dollars in delay damages early on, despite not being found responsible for the collapse or the damage up to that point. The contract called for them to cover all damages regardless of fault.
After a lengthy trial, the jury exonerated the Concrete Company and found that the Crane owner and its principal had in fact been the sole proximate cause of the crane collapse.
The Concrete Company, having spent over a million dollars in legal fees defending itself for several years, sought out the firm of Leav & Steinberg, LLP. They met with us and were advised that we would be willing to take on all efforts to recover what money they lost from the responsible Crane Owner. Unfortunately, the Crane Owner then declared bankruptcy.
In most firms, when a defendant goes into bankruptcy, it would result in the firm advising its client that it was less than likely that they would see any money for their damages. Partner Edward Steinberg however, realized as well that the amount of damages that were awarded by the jury would unfortunately but likely be reduced by the Appellate Division and as such, the Crane Owner may have sufficient assets in which to reorganize and pay Creditors including his client.
Accordingly, rather than give up, he continued to fight, petitioned the US Trustee to join the Creditor’s Committee and then spent the next two years fighting in Court for his client. He attended every hearing and when it appeared the Crane Company was on the brink of liquidation, he along with the other Creditor’s Committee members had a Trustee appointed to take over the company, while we sought to preserve any and all assets the company might have.
At that point, our client was served with a motion to dismiss our Claim arguing that we did not have a proper claim under common law indemnification, contractual indemnification or direct breach of contract. Edward Steinberg, along with partner Daniela Henriques opposed the motion and at that point the Trustee for the Company realized that our claim had merit.
Negotiations began and after lengthy meetings, Leav & Steinberg, LLP resolved this matter in Bankruptcy with the Debtor/Crane Company being able to emerge from Bankruptcy court and pay 100 cents on the dollar of all approved claims. Mr. Steinberg, having spent over two years on the Creditors Committee assisted in the collection of over $50,000,000.00 in claims for all creditors.
While slightly outside the firms direct area of expertise, we took on the matter and provided legal representation from beginning to end with a full recovery.
Below is the text of an email sent by the Principal of the Concrete Company when we advised that we had recovered $8,400,000.00 for them:
That’s GREAT NEWS !!! …
We are relieved to be able to put this unfortunate tragedy behind us emotionally as well as financially. We genuinely appreciate the hard fought effort that you’ve successfully executed on our behalf. When we retained you, it was based solely on our extreme trust & faith. As time went on & we had more & more communications & interactions with you, it became crystal clear that we were 100% correct in retaining you, because we feel that you were the perfect attorney to represent us in this matter !!! From my experience with dealing with attorneys, I think that just as important, or maybe even more important than an attorney’s competence & intelligence, is the chemistry between the attorney & his/her client(s). And the chemistry that we had with you, was by far the best experience that we’ve ever had !!! And that is simply because of the honest, trustworthy, respectable, & respectful individuals that you both are.