The company tasked with the set up, take down and operation of the crane that collapsed in downtown Kelowna, killing five men, is named in at least 10 different civil suits with plaintiffs claiming “negligence.”
The majority of the civil suits were filed over the past week, which is just within the typical cutoff window to file court documents after an incident.
Stemmer Construction operated the tower crane being used for a construction project in downtown Kelowna when it collapsed on July 12, 2021.
The project was contracted by Mission Group Enterprises and the crane had been manufactured by Liebherr. Both companies have also been named in multiple lawsuits.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., a crane at a construction project on St. Paul Street, came crashing down and fell into a neighbouring office and residential buildings. Four construction workers – Cailen Vilnes, Jared Zook and brothers Eric and Patrick Stemmer, and one man unrelated– to the project Brad Zawislak, were killed in the incident.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuits include Zawislak’s widow, residential and business property owners, and those who had been working in the building that was struck by the crane.
Zawislak, 43, was working at a building next to the construction site when the crane smashed into his office, killing him.
Two of Zawislak’s co-workers have filed lawsuits against Stemmer construction. Shelby Austin Miller was working in the same office as Zawislak at the time of the incident and watched the ceiling and crane collapse directly onto his coworker, narrowly missing him.
Miller was showered in debris from the roof and was hit with multiple falling objects, causing cuts and bruising. He claims to also have been left in a state of severe shock after watching his co-worker be crushed by the crane, and nearly being hit himself. He is suing Stemmer Construction, two unnamed companies, five unnamed people and three enterprises of Liebherr, the company which manufactured the crane, for damages, including pain, suffering, loss of income and loss of enjoyment of life.
Grant Maddock, who was Zawislak’s employer at the time of the incident, has also filed suit against Stemmer Construction. He was in the office building when the crane collapsed and rushed to help his employees. Zawislak was couldn’t be found. Maddock helped the crane operator, who was wedged into the office building, still in the operator cage and badly injured. Maddock later learned that Zawislak had died when he had been crushed by the crane operator cage and was pushed through the floor, into the office on the lower level.
Maddock is suing Mission Group, the real estate development group for the project, and Stemmer Construction for damages including loss of income and psychological distress.
A group of business and homeowners who were impacted by the crash have also filed suit, naming Stemmer Construction as one of the defendants, claiming that “the collapse was caused by the actions, errors and omissions of the defendants.”
After the crane collapsed, an emergency evacuation order was put into effect preventing the home and business owners from accessing their properties for an extended period of time. As a result, their property was damaged, food spoiled and the property owners suffered loss of income and incurred costs associated with clean up, repairs and alternative living arrangements.
Mission Group Enterprises, four unnamed companies, and Stemmer Construction have been named as defendants in the jointly submitted lawsuit.
Stemmer Construction has also filed a lawsuit relating to the collapse. Naminh Liebherr, along with multiple unnamed people, alleging negligence and a “dangerous defect.”