CLARKSBURG – Two related Florida companies doing business in West Virginia are suing two area businesses, claiming negligence in an infrastructure accident which killed three people, including a volunteer firefighter, and seriously injured two more.

SBA Telecommunications LLC and SBA Towers LLC, both of Boca Raton, Florida and doing business in West Virginia, filed a lawsuit against S&S Communication Specialists Inc., believed to be of Oklahoma, and FDH Engineering Inc., believed to be of North Carolina, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia on Dec. 10, asserting negligence in a February 2014 accident in Clarksburg.

The plaintiffs assert that the Feb. 1, 2014, collapse of two SBA-owned communication towers was the result of negligence on the part of the defendants.

The suit states that SBA contracted with defendant FDH in 2012 for design and construction relating to the communication tower. According to the suit, FDH recommended certain maintenance procedures for Tower 1 in April 2013 after construction was completed, was engaged to perform the work, and subsequently subcontracted with S&S to execute the work.

According to the complaint, S&S personnel arrived at the worksite Feb. 1 unknown to either party and attempted to perform the work before previously approved roadway improvements were completed. The suit states that S&S was motivated to proceed by unseasonably warm weather.

S&S allegedly began to replace diagonal supports on Tower 1, which collapsed at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 1, 2014, after diagonal supports were removed. The plaintiffs allege that five supports were removed; while the foreman in charge initially claimed that only two or three were eliminated, he later “admitted” to the number being four or five, the complaint states.

At the time of collapse, of four S&S workers who were on the tower, two died and the other two were injured, the suit states. As Tower 1 fell, it allegedly struck wires supporting Tower 2, causing Tower 2 to tumble 30 minutes later, killing a volunteer firefighter on the ground who had been summoned to aid survivors, the complaint states.

SBA asserts that the defendants failed to perform adequate safety assessment and comply with industrial safety standards; and breached their contract with SBA. The plaintiffs claim that FDH agreed to indemnify SBA for damages as per their original contract.

Claiming monetary damages in excess of $1 million, the plaintiffs seek interest, attorneys’ fees and costs and other other relief the court deems fit. The plaintiffs are represented by Philip Sbrolla of Cipriani & Werner in Wheeling. The case has been assigned to Judge Irene M. Keeley.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia Case number 15-CV-228-IMK




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