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Family of worker killed on Columbia County highway job sues Michels Corp. for wrongful death

By: Nate Beck, [email protected]//April 16, 2021//

Family of worker killed on Columbia County highway job sues Michels Corp. for wrongful death

By: Nate Beck, [email protected]//April 16, 2021//

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The family of a worker struck and killed by a truck carrying a crane on a Columbia County highway project last summer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the contractor Michels Corp.

The lawsuit argues a driver employed by Michels was negligent in failing to secure a crane that later struck and killed 29-year-old Moises Andino Lopez, who was working on a project to paint an overpass on Highway 151 near Columbus last summer. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Andino Lopez’s partner and their two children, seeks damages for the incident.

An official with Michels Corp. did not respond to a message seeking comment. The company has not yet registered an attorney in the case nor responded to the complaint. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Madison on April 8.

According to the lawsuit, Andino Lopez was working for the painting contractor Omega Coating and Construction, a subcontractor of MSA Professional Services, on July 13, the day of the incident. Omega was on the site as part of a Wisconsin Department of Transportation contract. Neither company is named in the lawsuit.

While the painting crew was working on an overpass, a driver for Michels Corp. was operating a flatbed truck carrying a crane with a boom and grappling hook that was intended to remain fixed and in-line with the center of the truck during travel.

Instead, the crane boom became unsecured during transit, swinging at least 15 feet out on the passenger side of the vehicle. As the driver of the truck passed through a protected construction zone near the bridge, the crane’s boom and claw struck Andino Lopez, seriously injuring him.

Andino Lopez lived for more than an hour after the collision, enduring “extreme pain and suffering,” according to the lawsuit. Officials later pronounced him dead at the scene of the incident.

The suit accuses the truck driver of failing to secure the crane boom, traveling at an “excessive” speed and other acts of negligence. The filing also accuses Michels Corp. of failing to properly inspect and maintain its equipment and failing to properly train its driver.

A native of Honduras, Andino Lopez had been working in the U.S. since 2012 to send money to his partner and children, who are now in Mexico.


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