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Deceased worker's family files wrongful death suit

A New Jersey family filed wrongful death litigation against two corporate defendants after the death of a family member in an industrial accident last year.

On Jan. 21, 2015, the 62-year-old electro-mechanical technician was killed at McCain Ellio's Foods located in Lodi. He had been sent by his supervisor to take out parts from an electrical control panel that weighed close to 1,000 lbs., was taller than 7 feet and over 5' feet in width, as stated in the wrongful death petition.

While the technician was dismantling the circuit boards at the frozen foods plant, the heavy panel fell on top of him. According to the police report, he was discovered by co-workers "unconscious on the floor with an electrical panel box laying on top of him."

Although employees attempted CPR, the man was not able to be resuscitated. His cause of death was officially determined to be due to the combination of a fracture of the cervical spine, chest trauma and compressional asphyxia due to the panel crushing him.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in 2016 in Bergen County Superior Court, alleges the worker suffered "pain and suffering and death."

Because the owner transferred and sold his interest in the plant to D.O. Properties in the months prior to the fatality, both the original and new businesses bear liability for the technician's death, plaintiffs allege.

The petition alleges that McCain Foods was negligent for not realizing the perilous condition of the electrical control panel. Also, plaintiffs state that defendant McCain "knew or had reason to know that the (panel) was unstable, unsecured, that its legs had substantial rust and dry rot and was (in a) dangerous condition."

McCain Foods is accused of not disclosing this dangerous condition to D.O. Properties, which also had the duty to complete a property inspection and remedy dangerous conditions that were found.

No damage award will ever take the place of a loved one's presence. However, timely filing a suit for wrongful death can bring a measure of comfort to the survivors of the deceased, as civil justice can be won.

Source: NJ.com, "Family of man crushed to death at frozen foods plant files suit," Nov. 16, 2016

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