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Families of Illinois Men Injured, Killed in Scaffolding Accident File Lawsuits

— June 20, 2024

One of the two lawsuits was filed on behalf of Jeffrey Spyrka, a 36-year-old father of three who fell an estimated eight stories after strong winds dislodged his scaffolding.

An Illinois ironworker who survived a catastrophic collapse at a Chicago construction site has filed a lawsuit against two companies involved in the project.

According to The Kansas City Star, the complaint was filed on behalf of Jeffrey Spyrka.

Spyrka, a 36-year-old father of three, fell an estimated eight stories after strong winds dislodged the scaffolding.

“A corner of the scaffolding separated, causing [Spyrka] to sustain catastrophic and serious injuries,” the lawsuit states. Spyrka’s attorney, Lou Cairo, told local news sources that it is a “miracle” that the man survived.

One of Spyrka’s fellow ironworkers—27-year-old David O’Donnell—died in the accident.

Both men had, at the time of the accident, been working at the site of the University of Chicago Hospital’s planned Cancer Pavilion.

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Cairo indicated that, though Spyrka is alive and in stable condition, he did not escape the accident unscathed. Spyrka apparently sustained a number of serious and potentially life-altering injuries, including internal organ damage, broken bones, and other wounds requiring surgery.

The lawsuit names two defendants: Turner Construction Company, the contractor leading the Cancer Pavilion Project, and Adjustable Forms Inc., which erected the scaffolding.

Turner and Adjustable Forms “just wanted the job done, because time is money, profit over safety,” Cairo told WLS. Cairo further said that the scaffolding was neither properly constructed, nor was it inspected to standards—emphasizing that the scaffolding materials themselves, if properly built, should have been able to withstand the winds reported on the day of the accident.

“OSHA has a provision that requires a hanging scaffold of this type will withstand up to 70 mile-an-hour winds,” he said. “This one was even safer than OSHA requires, by about 10 miles an hour.”

Adjustable Forms has since released a statement offering its “sincerest condolences to the loved ones of those affected.”

“Safety is integral to what we do,” the company said. “Adjustable Concrete is partnering with Turney Construction to support a full investigation into his matter alongside the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We are deeply grateful for the University of Chicago Medical Center doctors and all first responders involved.”

The family of O’Donnell, the ironworker killed in the same accident, has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Adjustable Forms and Turner Construction.


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