Suit filed in A.C. death by lightning

in May 2011. The fatal accident was in September at the Revel site.
in May 2011. The fatal accident was in September at the Revel site. (Carmen and Bryan P. Bradley)
Posted: April 05, 2012

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. - The sky along the oceanfront had become an ugly purple that afternoon as three men poured concrete from large metal buckets hoisted seven stories to the rooftop where they worked.

The pelting rain didn't bother them at first. But when the wind began to whip, thunder boomed and a half-dozen lightning strikes hit nearby, the crew helping build the $2.4 billion Revel casino knew it had to seek cover.

Yet the buckets containing the concrete and a quick-setting agent "kept coming, kept coming, kept coming," according to Dennis Lamond, 35, of Egg Harbor Township.

Lamond was working beside Bryan P. Bradley, 40, of Linwood, when Bradley was fatally struck by lightning as he gripped the metal bucket.

The strike hit just moments after the men decided they had had enough. They would risk being fired for quitting the time-sensitive job; they feared for their safety.

"That day, we were all scared, afraid for our lives because of the storm," recalled Lamond, who was electrocuted by the same bolt that killed Bradley on Sept. 15, 2011. "But we kept working because we were told to."

On Wednesday, Bradley's wife, Carmen, 39, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Tishman Construction Corp. of New York and Network Construction Co. of Pleasantville. Revel has not been named in the suit.

The widow fought back tears in her lawyer's office, saying safety personnel on-site had failed to properly monitor work conditions. She was flanked by Lamond and her husband's other crew member, Joseph A. Forcinito, 56, of Millville, who also was injured by the lightning strike.

"My husband and his coworkers were made to work under dangerous working conditions with zero regard for their lives," Carmen Bradley said. Each day her young sons ask, "Why did Daddy die?" she said.

Attorney Paul R. D'Amato, who represents the Bradleys and Forcinito, contends that the storm created more than 1,200 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes as it roared across the region. An 80-story crane - adjacent to where the men were working, that aided in the construction of the second tallest building in the state - created a powerful conduit for the lightning, he said.

"The families want . . .. and are entitled to answers to the lingering and disturbing questions of why their loved one was put at risk," said D'Amato, who also was cocounsel for the plaintiffs in the fatal 2003 Atlantic City Tropicana Casino Hotel garage collapse that killed four construction workers.

"Couldn't they see the sky was crackling with lightning bolts?" asked Mark Roddy, who represents Lamond.

Forcinito said supervisors showed up midway through the storm with rain gear, but the men already were soaking wet, and no one gave any direction about seeking cover.

Members of various construction trade unions who were on the job said there was an inherent push to finish the job quickly. Revel officials promised the resort would open by Memorial Day 2012.

It had a "soft opening" Monday; a grand opening is scheduled for May.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Network Construction said the lawsuit "wasn't unexpected." The fatal lightning strike was an "act of nature . . . a freak accident," according to Robert Polisano, the company's president.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration last month fined Network $3,000 for violating federal regulations that say when a local storm warning has been issued, safety personnel must determine whether personnel and equipment must be secured.

Tishman officials declined to comment other than a one-sentence statement noting that Tishman had not been cited by OSHA or found to be at fault by entities investigating the incident last year.


Contact staff writer Jacqueline L. Urgo at 609-652-8382 or jurgo@phillynews.com.

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