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Law firm claims Amazon warehouse support beams in tornado-hit Edwardsville building “not properly anchored to the ground”

Friday, Apr 8, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the More Perfect Union website

New evidence reveals Amazon’s culpability for the deaths of 6 workers in a warehouse collapse last year in Edwardsville, Illinois. Documents obtained by More Perfect Union show that the support beams in Amazon’s warehouse weren’t anchored to the ground — a grave violation of international building code.

When a tornado struck the Amazon facility on December 10, 2021, the warehouse collapsed killing six people. One of them was a 26-year-old delivery driver named Austin McEwin. The McEwin family has since filed a lawsuit against Amazon, and is represented by Jack Casciato of Clifford Law Offices. The attorneys on this case filed a FOIA with the West County EMS & Fire Protection District, and learned that the support beams in the warehouse were not properly anchored to the ground, violating international building code and leading to the deadly collapse.

“Looking at the base of the columns more closely, I could find no weld or bolted connection at the base of any column,” reads the report. “An examination of several of the empty pockets where columns once stood also did not reveal any indication of positive securement of the columns at or below the finished floor level.”

The investigation also revealed that Amazon began receiving severe weather warnings about an impending tornado near Edwardsville as early as December 9, 2021, a full day before the tornado struck. Instead of sending workers home, Amazon forced workers to stay through the storm, placing profits over people and costing six workers their lives.

A spokesperson for the Clifford Law Offices confirmed today that they are making the allegation.

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14 Comments
  1. - Fav Human - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 2:37 pm:

    violation of international building code.

    What about Illinois building code?


  2. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 2:42 pm:

    Seems like they could have joined with Amazon to sue the builder, rather than sue Amazon who in turn will sue the builder. Amazon should be furious that corners were cut and their staff were injured or killed as a result.


  3. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 2:47 pm:

    It will be interesting to see if that was per the design or if the builder did not follow the plans. The implication is that someone was trying to save money. Lowest bidder is not the same as lowest responsible bidder.

    I wonder if that building was built with union tradespeople.


  4. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 2:49 pm:

    === Amazon should be furious that corners were cut===

    Unless they were going for fast and cheap…in that case, their hands aren’t clean. You get what you pay for.


  5. - Tim - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 2:50 pm:

    === What about Illinois building code? ===

    Most municipalities incorporate the International Building Code by reference in their local ordinances.


  6. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 3:13 pm:

    Interesting that they would sue Amazon over construction. Did a little research (via Google) and found a December news article that reported: “Amazon leases the warehouse at 3077 Gateway Commerce Center Drive South, developed in 2018 by Creve Coeur-based TriStar Properties and built by Contegra Construction Co. of Edwardsville. It was expanded to 1.1 million square feet in July 2020. San Diego-based Realty Income Corp. has owned it since late 2020, when it paid $41.5 million for it, according to Madison County records.”

    Looks like the responsible parties would be the original developer, the construction contractor, and/or the current owner. Amazon’s culpability would seem to be limited with respect to construction/design issues.

    https://www.centralmaine.com/2021/12/14/officials-expert-zero-in-on-construction-of-amazon-warehouse-destroyed-in-tornado-killing-6/ (original reporting was for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


  7. - 20 foot Commuter - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 3:23 pm:

    - severe weather warnings -

    Ridiculous assertion, no one can predict a tornado 24 hours in advance.


  8. - Lincoln Lawyer - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 3:27 pm:

    @pot-calling-kettle :

    Thanks for sharing why we still need lawyers in America and you can’t just represent yourself pro se using Google.

    Tell me you think you know more about trial lawyering than the top trial lawyers in Illinois without telling me.

    Try googling “joint and severable liability Illinois.”

    To the post: just imagine for a moment what the punative damages against Amazon could be for a case in Madison County, ten minutes from the courthouse, that made national news and where their behavior is so clearly egregious.

    If this is a pattern across all warehouses, oh boy.

    Amazon makes around $1 billion in profits a day.


  9. - Suburbanon - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 3:29 pm:

    There is no statewide building code. As noted previously, local governments adopt all or parts of the International Code, usually with some local “special” amendments. As a result we have a hodgepodge patchwork of codes across the state. Buildings on opposite sides of a street or road could be built under a different code. Crazy.


  10. - 20 foot Commuter - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 3:39 pm:

    LL- demonstrate why trial lawyers get such a bad rap in one post.


  11. - Lincoln Lawyer - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 4:48 pm:

    @20 Foot Commuter -

    yes, Amazon placed its workers in harms way in an unsuitable building in a Tornado-prone area, ignoring tornado warnings

    …but…

    “Trial lawyers are the bad guys.”

    When you are an employer, you have a basic responsibility to ensure safe work conditions for your employees, and it does not matter if you are renting.

    When negligence is egregious, expect punative damages.

    The court has ruled on what the limits of punative damages are, i dont think one days’ profits are out of line. its basically a chicago parking ticket for Amazon.

    If Amazon wants to sue their “landlord” they should.


  12. - Tim - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 5:25 pm:

    === no one can predict a tornado 24 hours in advance. ===

    No, but the convective outlooks from the Storm Prediction Center are pretty damn good now, and will provide solid guidance 1-2 days ahead of time when severe weather is likely. It’s not like a snowfall forecast.

    This assertion is why I’d like to read the full investigative report and see what the actual assertion was, since the reporting by More Perfect Union about this and “international building code” (no capitalization) appears incomplete or not entirely accurate.


  13. - truthteller - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 5:31 pm:

    beams are not anchored to the ground, building columns that support the beams and frame are anchored to the ground. Beams are horizontal members and columns and posts are vertical members. Details matter.


  14. - DuPage - Friday, Apr 8, 22 @ 11:02 pm:

    Who inspected and passed it? City, county?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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