The relatives of a 39-year-old crane oiler who was killed last year in a construction accident at City Center has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Dustin Tarter’s death in May of last year, which at the time was the sixth death in 18 months at the mammoth Strip project, caused a one-day walkout by his fellow workers over unsafe working conditions. A series of articles in the Las Vegas Sun on the high rate of construction deaths on the Strip won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The story of Tarter’s death was among those written about in the articles.

The Defendants in the suit included: MGM Mirage, the project’s owner; Perini Building Co., its general contractor; and Dielco Crane Service, the company operating the crane that crushed Tarter to death. When filing the lawsuit, Tracy Eglet, who is with the law firm of Mainor Eglet Cottle, located in Las Vegas, had this to say:

We believe the practices at the City Center project were shoddy at times and that unrealistic deadlines may have played a part in this. It appears that profits may have taken a greater priority than worker safety. Mr. Tarter’s family has been devastated by his untimely death, as have other families who have lost loved ones on this project.

Last fall, the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Dielco $12,000 for a series of violations, including failing to instruct employees to sound a horn before swinging the crane, a warning that could have prevented Tarter’s death. The suit alleged that the crane was “defective” and that “the horn/warning system failed to perform as expected and was more dangerous than reasonably expected by an ordinary consumer.” It’s alleged in the complaint that the Dielco worker who was operating the crane at the time of Tarter’s death had been drinking. But in its investigation, OSHA could not substantiate that claim. However, OSHA cited Dielco for failing to properly instruct employees on how to use the crane and failing to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Tarter was oiling the crane’s tracks when the operator rotated the crane, causing the counterweight to drop and crush Tarter. The lawsuit alleged that MGM Mirage, Perini Building Co. and Dielco were negligent in their “hiring, training and supervision of employees” on the $8.7 billion CityCenter job site. The family, including Tarter’s mother, seeks general and punitive damages in this lawsuit.

Source: Las Vegas Sun

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