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Estate of worker killed in building collapse files lawsuit against Progress Energy

ST. PETERSBURG — The estate of a 65-year-old welder killed last summer in a Weedon Island building collapse is suing Progress Energy, which owned the old power plant.

Clark White of West Virginia was part of a crew hired to demolish the 180-foot-tall structure, which collapsed June 9 about an hour prematurely.

White, a married father, grandfather and Army veteran, was trapped inside and died of blunt trauma, authorities said.

In a wrongful death civil suit filed Dec. 30 in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, a representative of White's estate said Progress Energy was negligent both before and during the demolition process.

According to the claim, Progress Energy didn't do an engineering study before the demolition began, didn't conduct inspections during the demolition, failed to realize or ignored that parts of the structure were becoming weakened and allowed workers to continue working.

Progress Energy spokesman Tim Leljedal released this statement Friday night: "We are reviewing the suit and while our company policy doesn't allow us to comment on pending legal matters such as this, our thoughts continue to be with the family of Mr. White."

White worked for New York-based subcontractor Frontier Industrial Corp., hired by Progress Energy. Earlier this week, Frontier said it paid a $7,300 settlement to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, which had cited the company for two safety violations.

The lawsuit, which seeks damages in excess of $15,000, said Progress Energy "guided, directed and had control over the demolition" at each stage.

"We look forward to letting the investigation run its course and having responsibility placed at the doors of those at fault," P.J. Ondeck, White's daughter, said.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8643.

Estate of worker killed in building collapse files lawsuit against Progress Energy 01/06/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 7, 2012 12:34am]
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