MILWAUKEE (AP) _ A jury ordered two companies Friday to pay $99 million to the widows of three ironworkers killed when a crane collapsed at the construction site of Milwaukee's new baseball stadium.

All but $157,500 of the award must be paid by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America.

The jury held Mitsubishi and Lampson International Ltd. responsible for the July 1999 accident that killed William DeGrave, Jerome Starr and Jeffrey Wischer.

Mitsubishi was building the stadium's retractable roof. Lampson had leased a crane called Big Blue and its crew to Mitsubishi.

The ironworkers were guiding a 450-ton roof piece into place from a safety basket held aloft by another crane when Big Blue smashed them to the ground.

The jury reached its verdict after nearly three days of deliberations. Each of the widows will receive $1.7 million for pain and suffering. The verdict also includes $94 million in punitive damages, to be paid entirely by Mitusubishi.

Robert Habush, a lawyer for the widows, argued that the ironworkers died because of an ``outrageous'' decision to perform the roof lift in hazardous winds. Winds were gusting to 26 mph the day of the accident.

Mitsubishi attorney John Bell said the company should not have to pay any punitive damages for what was an accident. He also said that the crane was not properly assembled and that a soft spot in the ground caused it to lean.

Mitsubishi and Lampson have filed claims blaming each other for the accident.

The accident delayed completion of the Milwaukee Brewers' new stadium by one year and caused $100 million in damage. The stadium is due to open in April.


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