Family of worker critically injured in 8-story fall at Hyde Park construction site sues 2 companies

Eric Horng Image
Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Family sues after construction worker critically hurt in 8-story fall
The Chicago construction worker killed in the same fall at the University of Chicago Cancer Pavilion project has been ID'd as David O'Donnell.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Four days after he survived an eight-story fall from a scaffold seen swaying in winds as high as 40 mph, the family of injured ironworker Jeffrey Spyrka is alleging, in a lawsuit, "careless and negligent acts" by two companies: general contractor Turner Construction and subcontractor Adjustable Forms Incorporated.

Attorney Lou Cairo says in the incident last Thursday, at the University of Chicago Cancer Pavilion project, the southwest corner of the scaffold separated from the building.

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"They just wanted the job done, because time is money, profit over safety," Cairo said.

The lawsuit alleges workers complained about the stability of that corner days earlier, when the scaffold was lower to the ground, and were told by the subcontractor that the problem would be addressed.

"This scaffold was not properly inspected. It was not properly constructed," Cairo said. "The manner in which it was supported in the corners, which is the most critical part of that scaffold, was faulty."

David O'Donnell, a 27-year-old technical engineer, plummeted to his death, and his family is preparing to file a suit later this week.

The 36-year-old Spyrka, a married father of three, somehow survived after landing on bundles of PVC pipe.

It's a miracle he's alive
Lou Cairo, attorney

Doctors from the adjacent University of Chicago Medical Center rushed to his aid. Spyrka suffered numerous broken bones and serious internal and head injuries, but his attorney says after multiple surgeries, he's responsive and is not paralyzed.

"Heaven just doesn't have room for one more angel right now, because he, it's a miracle he's alive," Cairo said.

Subcontractor Adjustable Forms Incorporated did not respond to our messages regarding the lawsuit. The general contractor Turner Construction says it's aware of the filing and still investigating the incident.