Monday, July 27, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Family of dead construction worker sues 'U'
Mother seeks more
than $25,000 in
BY LARA ZADE
The family of former construc-
tion worker David Smith, a con-
struction worker who died in an
accident at the Ross School of
Business construction site last
August, is suing the University for
failing to provide adequate safety
From Page 1
being determined, but book prices
will likely be based on page length.
While the reprinting and sell-
ing of out-of-print reproductions is
common, Courant said the program
is still unprecedented.
"Nobodyelse has done this on the
scale that we have because nobody
has digitized as many books as we
Smith was an elevator mechanic
from Grass Lake who died at age
31 after falling five stories down
an empty elevator shaft at the con-
struction site on Aug. 4, 2008.
At the construction site, Smith
was responsible for moving work-
ers and their equipment from floor
Smith's mother, Mary Lee Smith,
filed the lawsuit in April. Smith is
asking for more than $25,000 in
damages from the University and
six other defendants, including
Smith's employer Schindler Eleva-
tor Corporation, general contractor
Barton-Malow Company and Shaw
have," he said.
Courant said University librar-
ies began digitizing their collec-
tion along with Cornell University
in a 1995 project called Making of
America, which specialized in pre-
serving antebellum and Recon-
struction-era texts. Since then, the
University has digitized approxi-
mately 7 million volumes on its
own and through large-scale digi-
tization efforts with Google, which
commenced in 2005.
Electric Company - the company
that provided lighting at the site.
According to Smith's complaint,
the University owned the prop-
erty, premises and building of the
Stephen M. Ross School of Busi-
ness during construction and "had
a non-delegable duty to assure
compliance with all industry and
government standards, codes and
regulations." The complaint further
states that the University had a duty
to assure that any dangerous con-
ditions were recognized and cor-
rected. Such dangerous conditions
included inadequate lighting for the
elevator shaft, elevator car and ele-
He added that Google would
receive a portion of the profits
derived from sales of the books it
has digitized from the University's
recent deal with BookSurge.
Amanda Wilson told The Associ-
ated Press on Tuesday that other
universities and prestigious librar-
ies have followed suit - including
Emory University, the University of
Maine and the Toronto and Cincin-
nati public libraries - and began
vator lobbies, which she claims the
University did not provide.
Brian Benner, the attorney rep-
resenting Smith's family, said the
elevator shaft was not properly lit.
To turn on the lights in the eleva-
tor shaft, Smith was required
to open the elevator doors, step
inside of the elevator, turn around
and turn a key.
"Safety always starts at the top
and not at the bottom," said Benner,
alluding to the fact that it's the
responsibility of the oversight com-
mittees and companies in charge of
the site to ensure safety at the site
- not that of the workers.
similar reprint-on-demand proj-
ects with BookSurge in 2007.
"Public and university libraries
are seeing the benefits of print-
on-demand as an economic and
environmentally conscious way to
support their missions of preserv-
ing and making rare or out-of-copy-
right material broadly available to
the public," she said.
Maria Bonn, director of the Uni-
versity library's Scholarly Publish-
ing Office, wrote in a press release
"Somebody's not enforcingsafety
at these job sites," he added.
The University responded ear-
lier this month, asserting that it
was not in possession and control of
the property during construction,
and the University was therefore
not responsible for the death. The
University's legal statement also
maintains that Smith was "more
than 50 percent responsible for the
accident of his death," meaning that
Smith was partially responsible for
the fall by not using proper safety
The University's response further
See LAWSUIT, Page 8
last week that current events could
spur public interest in older texts
and stimulate sales.
Courant agreed, adding that
making a profit is a secondary
objective of the project.
"We don't expect best sellers,
but there will be an intermittent
demand for books, and being able to
fulfill that demand is a good thing,"
- The Associated Press contrib-
uted to this report.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
Blue Lake International
Youth Symphony and Choir
Directed by Dr. Mark Webb
Choreography by Cory Goei and Penelope Freeh
- ALSO FEATURED -
Blue Lake Faculty Concerts & Workshops
Student Art Exhibition
5:00 - 7:00 P.M.
More information at bluelake.org/ebi