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Data Science Building construction workers sue BU over workplace injury

Jenga building, workers injured
Boston University’s Center for Computing & Data Sciences. Two construction workers at the site filed a negligence lawsuit March 8 against BU and Suffolk Construction Company after an incident last year resulted in “serious” injuries for both workers. BAYLE VINES/DFP STAFF

Two construction workers filed a negligence lawsuit March 8 against Boston University and Suffolk Construction Company due to an incident that occurred last year at BU’s Center for Computing & Data Sciences, which has been under construction since Jan. 2020 and is set to be completed this year.

The plaintiffs — Mark Anthony Pratt II and William Smith — were working on an upper level of the building’s frame on May 14, 2021, when a vertical metal beam fell, starting a chain reaction, according to the complaint filed by their attorney.

The plaintiffs requested a trial by jury, and the University has until July 6 to respond to the lawsuit.

Neither the plaintiffs nor their lawyer, Andrew Abraham, responded to requests for comment.

The falling beams collided with the beams Pratt and Smith were working on, causing the workers to fall to ground below, the complaint states. The complaint does not specify the exact distance the two fell.

A June 1, 2021 BU Today article reported that the two construction workers were briefly hospitalized following the incident. Construction of the building paused for two weeks.

The complaint alleges Pratt and Smith “suffered serious and debilitating physical and emotional injuries, the extent to which is yet to be determined.”

Jenga building, workers injured
A construction worker outside of BU’s Center for Computing & Data Sciences. BAYLE VINES/DFP STAFF

“The erector’s crew attempted to adjust the base of the first column without appropriate bracing or assistance, resulting in the column toppling into the other columns,” David Flynn, BU assistant vice president for major capital projects, said in BU Today’s article.  

Flynn did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

“The safety of our people … is our number one priority and we are committed to delivering the highest levels of safety to ensure our workers return home safely to their families at the end of every work day,” stated Suffolk Construction for BU Today in the same article.

Suffolk Construction Company did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

The plantiffs’ complaint alleges the University permitted  “inadequate safety standards” and failed to keep the construction site safe, leading to their injuries. 

BU spokesperson Colin Riley declined to comment on the case, citing the litigation’s pending status. 

The Data Science Building, located at 645-665 Commonwealth Avenue, stands at 19 stories high, 305 feet tall. Construction is set to finish this year, and it is expected to open Jan. 2023.

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