Arena worker sues over concrete collapse

 A Louisville construction worker hurt during a 2009 concrete collapse at the city’s downtown arena site has sued the project’s construction managers, claiming their negligence caused his injuries. 

 David Jacobs, who filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Jefferson Circuit Court, alleges that construction manager M.A. Mortenson Co., of Minneapolis, and its associate construction manager, Louisville’s Mathis & Sons, failed to comply with state and federal safety measures.

“Such failures not only constitute negligence, but willful and wanton conduct towards individuals such as David Jacobs,” according to the lawsuit.

Christopher Morris, an attorney for Jacobs, said Jacobs has not worked since being injured.

John Wood, a Mortenson senior vice president, issued a statement that said, in part, that the company considers worker safety to be its “highest priority.” Wood noted that Mortenson has contested the fines it received over the accident and said the company wouldn’t comment further on the lawsuit.

Mathis principal Anthony Mathis declined to comment because he had not reviewed the suit or spoken with his company’s attorneys.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial. Claims made in filing a lawsuit present only one side of the case.

Jacobs was one of three workers injured on April 27, 2009, when a floor partially collapsed. An engineer hired by Mortenson found that the floor buckled because subcontractor F.A. Wilhelm Construction Co. did not add nearly two dozen temporary support posts and incorrectly installed others.

The partial collapse involved a network of temporary support posts and platforms that hold concrete in place until it hardens.Kentucky workplace safety regulators fined Mortenson and Wilhelm $27,000 each, and Mathis $9,000, in August 2009.

Jacobs is not suing Wilhelm because the ultimate responsibility for safety on the project rests with the construction managers, Morris said.

Dick Brown, a spokesman for the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, said Mortenson and Mathis have contested their citations and fines, but Wilhelm has not.

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