Old East Dallas Crane Collapse: Prosecutors question exec at company they say put profits over people
DALLAS - An executive for Greystar took the stand Monday in the wrongful death trial of a woman who was killed in her Old East Dallas apartment when a crane collapsed onto it during a thunderstorm.
The attorney for the mother of Kiersten Smith questioned the company about its safety protocols and what changes have been made since.
The key question for the Greystar Vice President was if the company bears any responsibility for the 29-year-old's death.
Smith was cooking dinner in her apartment with her fiancé on June 9, 2019 when a crane came crashing down, killing her beneath the rubble.
Philip Treacy, a Project Director for Greystar said the company would not take responsibility, because the crane was owned by Biggie Crane, and operated by a Biggie Crane employee.
Later, attorney Jason Itkin showed Treacy the contract that said Biggie was leasing both the crane and the employee to Greystar, and that Greystar would be responsible for damages, injury or both.
"There are two sides to every story, in this case, there might be three sides," said Chad Ruback, an appellate attorney in Dallas who is not involved in the case.
Ruback says a contract is one thing, but ultimately it is the jury that gets to be the judge of responsibility.
"Jurors almost always get it right," he said.
At one point Monday, the judge asked the jury to leave the room and admonished Treacy for not answering Itkin's questions directly.
She said an hour was spent discussing the contract on things that are "as plain of day."
"I've had it," the judge said.
Greystar's attorneys were then able to speak with Treacy in the hall before he returned to the stand.
It was not until opening statements of the trial that Greystar admitted that the crane not being in "Weathervane Mode" was the cause of the collapse.
"Top notch lawyers will be able to piviot. It is not uncommon in a trial for things to go differently than expected, said Ruback. "Top notch lawyers will be able to piviot and address the unexpected."
With the jury out of the room the attorney for Kiersten Smith's mother argued before the judge that Greystar was putting profits over people.
The judge said he could not ask the executive that question directly, but could stick to questions about the company's core values.
The executive director of Greystar was asked if integrity involves making things right, even if it is expensive.
The vice president responded, saying that is not necessarily the case, if it is expensive.
Treacy will be back on the stand for cross-examination by Greystar attorneys on Tuesday.