Family files lawsuit after worker killed in 8-story fall at Hyde Park construction site

Lawsuits for deceased worker, injured worker asking for millions of dollars in damages from general contractor, sub contractor

Maher Kawash Image
Thursday, June 20, 2024
Family sues after worker killed in Chicago construction site fall
The family of David O'Donnell filed a lawsuit Thursday. The worker was killed in a Hyde Park, Chicago construction site scaffolding fall this month.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The family of a man who fell to his death at a construction site earlier this month filed a lawsuit Thursday.

The legal battle continues this week from the tragic construction accident that killed one man and seriously hurt another on June 6.

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David O'Donnell and Jeff Spyrka were working on the new cancer pavilion project at the University of Chicago when the scaffolding came apart, causing them to fall more than 100 feet.

It was a 4x4 sheet of plywood, and by no circumstances should that have been holding the west scaffold and the south scaffolding together.
Louis Antony Cairo, GWC law attorney

O'Donnell, who was just 26 years old, died from his injuries while Jeff Spyrka is still in the hospital with serious injuries to his brain and body.

Spyrka's family also filed a lawsuit last week. Their lawsuit alleged workers complained about the stability of that corner days earlier, when the scaffold was lower to the ground.

"I think it goes without saying that both of these families have been rocked to their core," attorney Louis Anthony Cairo said.

GWC law filed the second lawsuit from this incident on Thursday, which is a wrongful death suit on behalf of the O'Donnell family.

The lawsuits for O'Donnell and Spyrka are asking for millions of dollars in damages from the general contractor Turner Construction, as well as one of the sub contractors, Adjustable Forms Incorporated.

RELATED | Construction worker who fell 8 stories to death in Hyde Park remembered as role model, hard worker

Meanwhile, ABC7 learned more about what happened on that windy day with attorneys arguing that the scaffold was never built correctly.

"It was a 4x4 sheet of plywood, and by no circumstances should that have been holding the west scaffold and the south scaffolding together," Cairo said.

Cairo demonstrated what they believe the proper construction of that scaffolding would look like.

"These beams that are supporting the scaffolding don't go all the way to the south scaffolding... that is a problem," Cairo said.

O'Donnell and Spyrka were among multiple workers on the scaffolding when it came apart. Cairo said they allegedly tried to grab onto something for safety, but were unsuccessful.

The lawyers believe a layer of flex PVC pipes laying on the ground may have saved Spyrka's life.

"It actually broke his fall, and that's the only thing we can possibly think of that saved Jeff's life when he fell 140 feet," Cairo said.

A lengthy legal battle is ahead. Turner Construction told ABC7 they're aware of the court filings and will continue to support all of the to investigations underway.