Sunday, May 28, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Crane Operator Says Newspaper Defamed Him

TACOMA (CN) - A crane operator involved in a fatal construction accident sued the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, claiming the paper falsely implied that he was using drugs at the time of the November 2006 accident. Warren Yeakey was operating a tower crane at a construction site in Bellevue when the crane collapsed and damaged the surrounding buildings, killing one person.

A front-page headline in the Post-Intelligencer stated, "Operator in crane wreck has history of drug abuse." The story alleged that Yeakey "has a long criminal record, including at least six drug convictions," and discussed his involvement in a drug treatment program, according to the complaint in Pierce County Court.

Yeakey took a drug test after the accident and was drug-free, according to the complaint.

The Department of Labor and Industries report found that "flawed engineering design" caused the accident.

Yeakey demands damages for defamation, invasion of privacy, emotional distress and outrage. He also sued Hearst Communications, reporters Andrea James and John Iwasaki, and Texas Newspapers. He is represented by Matt Renda.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.