What should have been a quiet Sunday at home for Kiersten Smith and her fiancé ended in tragedy when a when Greystar tower crane collapsed, tearing through their Elan City Lights apartment building during a June 9, 2019, storm, killing Kiersten.
Nearly four years later, on April 27, 2023, a Dallas jury awarded more than $860 million to the parents and estate of Kiersten Smith, agreeing with lawyers for the family that the negligence of real estate developer Greystar and affiliated companies caused the fatal accident.
Michael Lyons of Lyons & Simmons, LLP, and Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin represented Plaintiffs Michele Williams and the Estate of Kiersten Smith proving the crane, which Greystar had allowed to fall out of inspection, had not been properly placed out of service prior to the severe weather that had been predicted days in advance of June 9.
According to trial testimony, the operator failed to “weathervane” the crane before leaving the day before the accident. Weathervaning allows cranes to move with the wind to avoid the potential of toppling over in bad weather. Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were reported before the collapse. A post-incident inspection of the crane showed the slewing brakes were on, indicating the crane was locked in place instead of being able to swing freely during the storm.
The tower crane was located across the street from Elan City Lights on a construction site for the Gabriella apartments, a mid-rise development owned by an entity affiliated with Greystar Development and Construction. Up to and throughout the trial, corporate leadership within Greystar refused to take any accountability for the crane collapse, said Lyons.
“Greystar has been adamant in refusing to accept any responsibility since this tragedy,” said Lyons. “If they won’t take responsibility, that is what juries are for. For nearly four years, Greystar has made excuses, pointed fingers, and denied its role in Kiersten Smith’s death, hurting others, and displacing hundreds of people from their homes. Greystar is now being told by a Dallas County jury they must take responsibility.”
Lyons and Houston attorney Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin LLP, represented Michelle Williams and the Estate of Kiersten Smith. Her father, James Kirkwood, was represented by Jonathon Clark of Glasheen, Valles & Inderman, LLP.
To read more about the $860 million verdict Lyons & Simmons helped secure for Michele Williams and the estate of Kiersten Smith:
Dallas Business Journal: Dallas Jury Awards $860M in Wrongful Death Case Involving Crane Collapse
Texas Lawbook: Dallas Jury Awards $860M in Wrongful Death Case Involving Crane Collapse [Password protected]
Law360: Greystar Issued $860M Verdict In Dallas Crane Collapse Trial [Password protected]