Trial Postponed for Defendants In Fatal Ground Zero Fire
The Deutsche Bank fire trials have been postponed, ENR has learned.
The trial of three former contractor employees indicted in connection with a fatal 2007 fire at the vacant Ground Zero high-rise was originally set to begin Jan. 18, but that no longer is the case, says a spokeswoman for one of the defense attorneys. No new date has yet been set.
Parties in the case are set to meet at a pre-trial conference on Feb. 4, at which time a new date will be determined, “presumably within a short time,” the attorney’s spokeswoman says.
She did not disclose information about whether the postponement originated with New York state Supreme Court Judge Rena K. Uviller, prosecutors or defense attorneys. No reason was given, either.
Facing trial are Jeffrey Melofchik, former lead project-safety manager and executive at Bovis Lend Lease; Mitchel Alvo, former abatement director for The John Galt Corp., the site’s former demolition subcontractor; and Salvatore DePaola, a former Galt foreman.
The Galt firm also was indicted. The officials were charged in 2008 with a total of seven counts of second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and second-degree reckless endangerment.
Attorney Edward J. M. Little is representing Melofchik.
The building, adjacent to the World Trade Center, had sustained damage on Sept. 11, 2001. The structure was being demolished when the fire occurred and firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino suffocated trying to fight the fire.
The original trial date was set last October after Uviller rejected defendants’ motions to dismiss charges.
The spokeswoman says that the three defendants are currently set to be tried together, “although there are severance motions pending.” She says the trial is expected to last three to four months.
The $300-million demolition of the former 41-story high-rise, owned by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., a quasi-public city agency, is set for completion this month, with the building site to be transferred later this year to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the rest of the 16-acre World Trade Center site, according to published reports.
Bovis remains the project contractor, but a new subcontractor, LVI Services Inc., New York City, now is the decontamination and demolition subcontractor.
This original story was published at ENR.com on Jan 12, 2011.