CA jury awards $16M to family of construction worker killed on job site
- A Los Angeles jury awarded $16.3 million Wednesday to the family of a worker killed when he fell 30 feet while constructing a wall, according to the Daily Breeze.
- The jury determined that Atlas Construction Supply did not provide the plans and specifications necessary to adequately secure the wall's form structures to which 30-year-old Edgar Gonzalez was connected when he fell 30 feet to his death.
- Total damages to the family were set at $27 million, but the jury assessed Atlas's fault at 55%, while tagging USS Cal builders, Gonzalez's employer, with the remainder of the liability.
Gonzalez was helping build a 30-foot wall panel at the Hyperion wastewater treatment plant near the Los Angeles neighborhood of Playa del Rey when the incident occurred. Part of the formwork also landed on Gonzalez after he fell. The family also sued the project's crane operator company and won an out-of-court settlement of $650,000, according to the Daily Breeze.
Earlier this year, a Texas jury awarded $54 million to the family of a worker killed during a 2013 renovation of Texas A&M's Kyle Field. Angel Garcia was catching demolished concrete with a Caterpillar loader when a large piece of concrete tipped the loader, causing Garcia to fall almost 40 feet. OSHA also fined two contractors on the project a total of $130,000 for their roles in the accident.
Although there has been no civil suit filed, OSHA also fined Mortenson Construction and a roofing subcontractor on the new Minnesota Vikings' U.S. Bank Stadium project a total of $173,400 in relation to a falling death during roof construction last summer. Jeramie Gruber was working on the stadium roof when he slipped and fell five stories to his death. The agency found Mortenson had committed one serious violation and fined it $34,300, and OSHA fined Berwald Roofing $139,100 and issued the company one willful and two serious violations.
Contractors have been facing increased scrutiny when safety violations occur on their job sites as officials ramp up prosecution in these cases. Last month, a Brooklyn, NY, contractor was charged with manslaughter after one of his employees, a concrete worker, fell six stories to his death from an unprotected edge of a building. The construction industry has also kept a close eye on OSHA's recent moves, and on Aug. 1, the agency will raise its fines 78% to comply with a federally mandated rate increase to bring its penalty amounts in line with the Consumer Price Index — marking the first increase since 1990.
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