Workers’ families file suit over Boise, Idaho, hangar deaths

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Dive Brief:

  • The families of two workers who died in an Idaho hangar collapse Jan. 31 have filed a wrongful death suit, seeking damages from the construction team, alleging the builders “recklessly” hurried construction.
  • Mariano Coc Och, 32, and Mario Sontay Tsi, 24, were killed when a hangar under construction at an airfield near the Boise Airport collapsed on top of them. Craig Durrant, 59, co-founder of Meridian, Idaho-based general contractor Big D Builders, also died in the collapse. Nine others were injured.
  • The suit, filed July 9 in the U.S. District Court of Idaho, alleged that because the construction team faced penalties from project owner Jackson Jet if they failed to complete the hangar in a timely manner, the defendants conspired to rapidly finish the project with insufficiently safe and effective materials.

Dive Insight:

Along with Big D Builders, the suit names local firms Steel Building Systems, Inland Crane and Speck Steel as defendants.

MBCI, the project’s Houston-based supplier of prefabricated steel that was not named as a defendant in the suit, did not provide cross bracing pieces, according to the lawsuit. As a result, the project team made its own pivotal cross bracing, which it did not have approval for from the City of Boise.

The difference in the parts used versus MBCI parts “is enormous and monumental,” the suit said; the typical parts are made of high-quality alloys that are machine-welded in authorized facilities. 

“In contrast, the Big D-, SBS- and Speck Steel-manufactured parts were not of a conforming size to fit the MBCI pre-fabricated structure, were manufactured in unauthorized welding labs, were rushed, were improperly and poorly welded and are marked by a different color,” the suit alleged.

Witnesses reported that the hangar’s cables popped and bracing had started to come apart on Jan. 30, the day before the collapse. The suit alleged that was a result of the rushed construction. 

Och and Tsi had also been pulled from different construction projects and told to report to the hangar on Jan. 26, the suit said. They were told they would work overtime from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31, because the hangar’s shell needed to be finished by the day of the ultimate collapse.

The suit does not contain the amount in damages the plaintiffs are seeking.

Companies’ response

Inland Crane had four cranes on the jobsite on the day of the collapse, and the hydraulic arm of one was caught in the wreck.

“Inland Crane expresses its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims in this tragic incident,” the company said in a statement about the lawsuit shared with Construction Dive. “While we mourn the loss of our partners, friends and colleagues, all evidence demonstrates that Inland Crane and our employees are not at fault for this tragedy. We are confident that the judicial process will exonerate Inland Crane and our employees.”

Construction Dive attempted to reach the other defendants for comment on the suit. Big D Builders declined to comment on the litigation but had put out a statement in the days following the collapse.

“Words cannot describe our pain and sorrow,” read the February statement. “Behind our company name is a small, Idaho-grown, family-owned business, and we are grieving deeply with our community.”

Steel Building Systems and Speck Steel do not have publicly available contact information and were not able to be reached by Construction Dive.

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