Former downtown arena worker injured in collapse files lawsuit


Posted on March 31, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 12:20 PM

(WHAS11) - One of the workers hurt in last year's concrete collapse at the new downtown Louisville basketball arena has filed a lawsuit against two of the companies involved in the construction.

The arena has been in the spotlight just this week when it had its topping off ceremony.

But now just a couple days later an injured arena worker and his attorney are putting it in a much different light with a lawsuit.

In the complaint filed Wednesday at Jefferson Circuit Court claims the 2 companies in charge of the arena construction, MA Mortenson Company and Mathis and Sons, are to blame for the part of arena collapsing last year.

One of workers hurt, David Jacob, is behind the suit. We talked to his attorney Chris Morris by phone Wednesday.

Morris says his client fell 10 ft and a bar went through his arm. Morris says Jacob hasn't been able to work and has big medical bills.

“He's undergoing psychological treatmen,t severe scaring and most likely will need back surgery,” said Morris.

Jacob was pouring cement when the arena crumbled. Morris says his client and two other workers were injured because there were no inspections done before the cement went down.

“Mortenson has stated that this collapse was preventable and we agree we believe an inspection before the concrete was poured Mortenson and Matthews could have prevented the tragedy.”

Jacob's worked for FA Wilhelm Construction, a company contracted to do the cement work.

They are not named in the suit because Morris claims MA Mortenson Company and Mathis and Sons had an obligation to make sure that construction in progress was done in accordance with OSHA and KOSHA. 

It also includes that both defendants were cited by Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 6 violations relating to the arena collapse.

Both companies named in the suit have talked about their high safety ratings in the past.  Morris says he's not disputing that but says he believes his client deserves compensation for what he calls a preventable accident.

“While I think the arena is a good thing for the city, we need to protect the workers building the arena.”

Since the suit was filed late Wednesday, most likely the 2 companies in it have not received it.

We did leave messages with both companies but have not heard back yet.

Mortenson Construction released this statement:

"Mortenson Construction considers the issue of worker safety to be its highest priority...the complaint references a citation issued to Mortenson by the Kentucky OSHA. Mortenson is formally contesting this citation and we remain in communication with state officials on this matter."