Jury Awards $3M to Workers Injured in Boiler Explosion
Five workers injured by a factory blast won $3 million against their employer for intentionally sending them into danger.
The workers of Tec-Cast, a metal casting plant in New Jersey, were working near a pressurized boiler-type tank in January 2008 when it exploded for unknown reasons.
“It sounded like a bomb went off,” the New York Times quoted one witness as saying after the blast that reportedly sent people fleeing, screaming and crying.
One worker, Mario Gomez, was standing directly in front of the tank and was killed instantly. Gomez had worked at the location for seven years and had been planning to retire the following year, according to newspaper reports at the time.
The explosion fractured the skull of another worker, Jose Salazar, who also broke his leg in the accident. Another worker, Ramon Agramonte, suffered a broken ankle and a fourth worker was psychologically injured, requiring therapy.
In order to collect damages from their employer, the workers had to prove Tec-Cast’s conduct was intentional.
Their attorney, Raymond Carroll, argued that the company violated several safety rules, didn’t make sure their safety devices were working, hired unlicensed and unqualified technicians to do repairs, and didn’t do proper inspections on the tank.
A jury of six agreed that the company was aware of the substandard conditions when it assigned the workers to work near the tank, finding it engaged in an “intentional and knowingly deceptive course of conduct.”
The jurors awarded $1.4 million to Gomez’ widow and five children, and $1.2 million to Salazar. They also awarded $78,000 to Agramonte, but nothing to the worker who suffered only psychological injuries.