John Edwards files lawsuit on behalf of 3 workers killed in Raleigh construction accident

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The families of three men killed in a fall at a Raleigh skyscraper in March have sued for damages in a lawsuit led by attorney and former presidential candidate John Edwards.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the estates of Anderson Almeida, Jose Luis Lopez-Ramirez and Jose Eraso Claros Hernandez.

The lawsuit was filed in Durham, where Almeida and Hernandez were residents. Lopez-Ramirez lived in Sampson County.

The suit names Associated Scaffolding, Choate Construction and Klimer Platforms as the defendants.

On March 23, 2015, the three men were working at the Charter Square project before the incident. They were dismantling a mast climber on the 11-story building when the exterior lift system collapsed.

John Edwards, with his daughter, Cate, behind him. (File)
John Edwards, with his daughter, Cate, behind him. (File)

The suit claims the men were working on the ninth floor when they fell. The suit claims the scaffolding became unstable and that the three companies had a role in the tragedy.

The lawsuit claims Associated Scaffolding was negligent for multiple reasons, including that the scaffolding had 4,227 pounds on the scaffold when the maximum gross weight should be 2,500 pounds.

The lawsuit said Associated Scaffolding “Failed to observe that care and caution required of a reasonably prudent scaffolding company under the same or similar circumstances.”

In a statement, Associated Scaffolding said, “This was a very tragic accident and all of us at Associated Scaffolding Company have been and remain concerned about the families involved.  Associated Scaffolding is committed to safety and has had an excellent safety record for more than 68 years.”

In the claims of negligence against Choate Construction Company, the lawsuit states that Choate, as general contractor, “had a non-delegable duty to provide safety” for the workers “because they were performing inherently dangerous work.”

“Defendant Choate, because it was behind on the project, pushed Associated Scaffolding to complete the dismantling of the scaffold within a day, a timetable that it knew or should have known was too rushed to be completed safely.”

WNCN left a message for Choate to respond.

Choate responded to WNCN’s request with a one-sentence statement:

“The NCDL and OSHA did an exhaustive analysis of the accident and investigation and at the end of it no citations were issued to Choate.”

In claims against Klimer Platforms Ltd. and Klimer Platforms Inc., the lawsuit said the defendants “had a responsibility to provide clear and consistent instructions and warnings in the use of their production, including warning of safety hazards and concerns.”

The lawsuit claims Klimer Ltd. And Klimer Inc. were negligent because they “failed to provide adequate instructions” for the safe use of their products.

Klimer declined to comment.

The lawsuit was filed by John Edwards and two other attorneys by his Raleigh firm, David Kirby and William Bystrynski.

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