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In March 2015, 28-year-old Stephanie Gurney fell to her death from a SBA Communications tower in San Angelo, Texas. At the time, details surrounding the situation were unclear. According to reports, the woman’s climbing abilities were being assessed for possible employment with Jostan Communications. Jostan owner, Joseph Grimes, said that before they got on the tower, he went over all the safety features of the harness; this was the woman’s first climb ever. Making the climb with them was the woman’s boyfriend, an employee of Jostan. Grimes said he after climbed down the tower to take a phone call, he heard horrific screaming. Turning around, he found Gurney on the ground. A short time later, Grimes found her harness and told police the hook was not properly latched, although it was prior to her climb. Eventually, the sheriff’s office closed their investigation, ruling it a tragic accident.

Although no lawsuit has yet to be filed, the mother of the deceased hired an attorney to look into the accident and possible negligence surrounding her daughter’s death. With the potential lawsuit, new details began to emerge.

One key question is whether or not Grimes was authorized to use the tower. While he says he had permission, SBA Vice President, Risk Management David Sams, stated, “At no time did any service contractor or carrier request access to the site for any reason on March 28, 2015.” If SBA did not authorize Jostan to be on site, SBA would most likely be relieved of all accountability. Where it gets complicated is where Grimes obtained the lock combination to enter the property. The plaintiffs’ attorney said he needs more facts before filing a lawsuit. However, even if there is a lawsuit, against Jostan, the company appears to have few assets. Jostan Communications is neither listed as a registered corporation in Texas, nor identified by corporate information web sites such as Manta; its website does not list a company address.

This may become a case without any named defendants other than Grimes, who was possibly trespassing and who may not have properly checked Gurney’s safety harness before she began her test climb.

Lawsuit Financial will be watching as this story develops.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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