Contractor Convicted in Deadly Brooklyn Wall Collapse

A construction company operator has been convicted in connection with a fatal construction accident that killed Luis Sanchez Almonte at a Brooklyn jobsite. The victim was crushed by 15,000 pounds of debris in the 2018 incident. According to THE CITY, the construction company operator faced a bench trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court that returned a rare criminal conviction for a workplace death. The 49-year-old operator faces up to 16 years in prison. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office pursued the case in cooperation with city’s Department of Investigation and Department of Buildings.

A Preventable Tragedy

In addition to the operator, the judge also convicted the site foreperson with criminal mischief in the fourth degree for which he faces one year in jail. District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said the verdict sends “a strong message that when contractors cut corners and put their workers’ safety at risk, they will face serious and criminal repercussions.” Gonzalez said Sanchez Almonte’s death “was a preventable tragedy,” which may have been avoided had the construction site’s operator adhered to safety protocols or had heeded warnings about unsafe worksite conditions.

The judge heard evidence in this case over the last few months that the defendants failed to respond to workers’ concerns that the site was unsafe — specifically regarding the wall that eventually crushed and killed Sanchez Almonte was at risk of collapsing. It took authorities over 28 hours to free the remains of Sanchez Almonte, a laborer from the Dominican Republic.

Construction Site Safety Violations

THE CITY documented safety warnings that were ignored by the construction company operators and others who were responsible for the Brooklyn building demolition and excavation site. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that the company had ignored a cave-in warning at the site before that collapse occurred. OSHA had issued two citations against the company in March 2019 totaling $63,647. One was for a “willful” violation of federal construction safety regulations.

The recent convictions were the result of a 28-count indictment brought by the District Attorney in November 2019 including manslaughter counts against both men as well as the site engineer. The DA’s probe determined that the construction company operator refused to stop work at the Brooklyn site in spite of warnings about dangerous conditions from workers and adjacent property owners.

Criminal charges in connection with construction accident deaths are rare in an industry that is New York’s deadliest as well as one where Latino men like Sanchez Almonte are statistically the most vulnerable. Sanchez Almonte was a welder in his native Dominican Republic before moving to New York in 2016. Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed Carlos’ Law, which will raise penalties for criminal corporate liability for the death or serious physical injury of an employee to a fine of up to $500,000. That bill was named after construction worker Carlos Moncoya, who died on the job in Manhattan in 2015.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

A construction accident victim can seek workers’ compensation benefits from his or her employer. In addition, workers and their families may be able to file a third-party lawsuit for substantial money damages against a number of parties, and thus have two sources of compensation. Third-party claims are filed against parties other than the employer or co-employees and may include general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, managing agents, construction companies, etc. In cases where a worker dies from injuries suffered on the job, surviving family members may seek death benefits through workers’ compensation and/or file a wrongful death claim against a third party.

If you have suffered injuries in a construction-related accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.

Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job — one of the highest construction case settlements in New York that year. Our law firm also recovered $3,000,000 for a man who fell and suffered two broken legs when he walked into an open elevator shaft. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury, lead poisoning and medical malpractice cases including, brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) and cerebral palsy cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

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1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES

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