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6.9 Million Awarded in Construction Death

St. Petersburg Times

A jury on Saturday found a Tampa construction company negligent in the 2000 death of one of its workers and awarded his family $6.9- million, attorney Steve Yerrid said Saturday night.Misener Marine Construction Co. of Tampa and Interbeton of the Netherlands must pay the award to David Witherow’s family, Yerrid said.

“We got a jury verdict, and it was a verdict of rightness,” said Yerrid, the Tampa attorney who represented Witherow’s widow, Joan.

Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Perry Little presided over the weeklong trial, which ended Saturday. The jury decided to work Saturday to complete the case, Yerrid said. The jury listened to some testimony, heard closing arguments and deliberated for about two hours Saturday, he said.

Lawyers for Misener and Interbeton could not be reached for comment.

David Witherow was crushed to death on Oct. 19, 2000, while trying to install a 30-ton concrete pipe underneath the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Roasrito, Mexico, Yerrid said. The pipe was being installed to cool the operation of a power plant.

Yerrid argued to the jury that the two construction companies did not properly maintain a wall designed to protect workers from the sea.

“The structure was allowed to deteriorate,” Yerrid said in an interview. “The old material gave in, the sea came in, moved the pipe and crushed him.”

Witherow, 47, was an experienced commercial diver from Little Rock, Ark. At the time of his death, his sons were 14 and 19 years old.

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