An ironworker who fell 100 ft from a scaffold at an $815-million cancer center under construction at the University of Chicago Medical Center has filed a lawsuit against Turner Construction Co. and scaffold provider Adjustable Forms. Inc. 

Jeffrey A. Spyrka, 36, a union ironworker and member of Local 1, who was injured in the accident, filed the lawsuit June 10 in federal court in Chicago. A lawsuit by the family of David O’ Donnell, a Local 130 technical engineer, who was killed in the accident, is expected to be filed by June 14, according to GWC Injury Lawyers of Chicago, the personal injury firm that is representing both men. Louis C. Cairo, of GWC, will represent Spyrka, according to the filing.

High winds were reported on June 6 when the men fell from scaffolding on the eighth floor of the Comprehensive Cancer Center Building under construction in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood where they were working on an elevator shaft on the exterior of the eighth floor. 

The lawsuit alleges that Turner Construction, the general contractor, failed to take appropriate safety measures to ensure that the scaffold system that surrounded all sides of the core of the building under construction was safely and properly erected, and that Turner caused and permitted scaffold work to continue at high levels on the building's exterior despite high winds. 

The complaint also alleges that Adjustable Forms of Lombard, Ill., failed to properly build the scaffold so that the corners of the structure could not separate, resulting in movement of the scaffold under any conditions, including in high wind conditions.  

A representative of Adjustable Forms told the workers that the scaffold system was “complete, safe and proper to work on, even despite the fact that there were high winds, thus assuring workers that it was safe for them to work from the scaffold," a press release from GWC states. 

Describing the accident that occurred around noon, Spyrka and his family allege that O’Donnell stepped on to the scaffold, conversed with Spyrka and "within a minute or two, a gust of wind caused the southwest corner of the scaffold to separate and the southerly scaffold section to swing violently away from the wall, throwing Spyrka and O’Connell over eight stories to the ground." 

Spyrka suffered life-altering catastrophic injuries as a result of this fall, according to the lawsuit. 

“These workers should have never been working on what turned out to be an unsafe, dangerous scaffold perched over 100 ft in the air,” said Cairo, managing partner at GWC in a statement. "This was an absolutely callous acts of negligence and misconduct by major construction companies who viewed progress on the job as their priority rather than the safety of the workers on the job.” 

Responding to the lawsuit, Eric Lindquist of Adjustable Forms, said "we are aware of the recent filings and continue to be deeply saddened to learn of this accident ... Safety is integral to what we do, and Adjustable Concrete is partnering with Turner Construction to support a full investigation into this matter alongside the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)."

"We are aware of the filing, and we continue to support investigations into this incident," said Chris McFadden, a spokesperson for Turner.