BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — UPDATE: Monumental Contracting Service, L.L.C. has been dismissed from the Birmingham Airport sign collapse lawsuit. Documents released Wednesday stated that, “it is clear that Monumental was involved with the process but its actions did not contribute to cause the Bressette family tragedy, and in fact, Monumental attempted to warn other defendants of the apparent danger.”
Due to Monumental’s Motion of Summary Judgment, Circuit Judge Tom King, Jr. has dismissed them from the ongoing case.
ORIGINAL: New documents released Tuesday revealed Monumental Contracting, a company involved in the flight display boards installed at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, acknowledged the multi-user flight information display systems (MUFIDS) were top heavy and unsafe.
The documents were released stemming from a case between the Bresette family and the contractors and companies involved in the assembling, design and installing of the MUFIDS.
Judge Tom King denied a motion from Monumental Contracting Tuesday to keep a summary judgment sealed in the ongoing case stemming from the display board accident at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.
The flight information board fell on members of the Bresette family on March 22, 2013, injuring Heather Bresette, two children and killing Luke Bresette.
Documents detail an oral account given by the crew leader for Monumental Contracting.
The crew leader, Josh Aaron, said Monumental Contracting was ordered to put up the MUFIDS as a part of the job – four of which were alike and a fifth board that was a bit different.
When the airport began renovation, the Birmingham Airport Authority hired KPS Group as the architect-engineer of the project, and Brafield & Gorrie General Contractors and BLOC Global as general contractors.
Fish Construction was hired by the joint venture of Brasfield & Gorie and BLOC Global to manufacture, assemble and install the MUFIDS. Monumental Contracting was hired by Fish Construction to partially assemble and install the boards.
Four boards were manufactured and delivered by Fish in three pieces to the airport. Monumental was hired to assemble the units and put them in their designed location inside the airport.
While on the job, Aaron and his crew became concerned about how the boards they were putting together in Concourse A, which is not the concourse where the board fell, were top heavy.
Email correspondence in court documents details Aaron informing Monumental’s project manager, Chris Swain, there were major concerns of top heaviness with the three-part MUFID once assembled. Those emails began on Jan. 7, 2013.
“There are major concerns about the top heaviness and weigh component factor with the three-part MUFID once assembled,” the email said.
In Aaron’s video deposition testimony he confirmed that once the MUFIDS were assembled a weight component would make them top heavy.
Swain sent an email expressing those concerns to Mike Shelley of Fish Construction and copied the email to Tony Williams of BLOC Global and Billy Traywick of Brasfield & Gorie.
“Please provide direction for me to stabilize the MUFIDS for safety concerns at your earliest convenience,” a portion of the email read.
Following an email exchange that Aaron, Traywick, Swain and Williams received from Shelley stating there was nothing in the designs calling for the units to be anchored to the floor, Aaron replied, “We put the three piece MUFIDS together. … Free stand will not work.”
Shelley said he would contact the architect and bring up the concerns of top heaviness, which he did around 45 minutes after Aaron’s email.
Aaron said he told Hart that it would be a problem without anchoring.
“[Hart] put his hand on it and said that they were going to put Z brackets or X brackets on the back side of it from the MUFID to the wall,” Aaron said. “We never did leave the MUFID until [Hart] said they were going to put the Z bracket, X braces, whatever, on the back. So basically, when he released us from it is when we left the MUFID that day (Jan. 7, 2013).”
Aaron confirmed the concern of top heaviness was before the video displays had been put into the MUFIDS.
Hart said in court documents that he had received information that the units were top heavy and daily reports indicated the MUFIDS had an issue with tipping.
Swain instructed Aaron and his crew with Monumental Contracting to lay the MUFIDS on the ground the next day and to not put any more MUFIDS together until the anchoring issue was resolved.
Monumental was not involved in assembling or installing any further information display boards. They say they did not design or manufacture any of the MUFIDS that were a part of the airport’s renovation project.
Rather, the court documents released Tuesday contain claims that Monumental’s only role involving the display boards was to partially assemble them, which they did before notifying Fish, Brasfield & Gorrie and BLOC of their concerns of top heaviness.
The pretrial conference is set for Oct. 24, 2014. The jury trial is set for Nov. 3, 2014.
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