Hearing Set In Case Involving Worker's Death

By Joan Lownds


The attorney representing an immigrant worker who died in a construction accidnet at a Greenwich home in 2010 says a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in the lawsuit brought on behalf of the worker.

Here is the announcement concerning the lawsuit as submitted by the lawyer.

"The tragedy of Erick Fernando Chinchilla, an immigrant worker who was killed while working on an unsafe renovation project at the home of Robert and Maya Tichio at 2 Macpherson Drive, is a microcosm that illustrates the dangerous working conditions too often faced by these laborers. These issues are playing a key role in the push for immigration reform, which is gaining momentum on a bipartisan bill in Congress. President Obama applauded this effort in his state of the union address (last) Monday night.

"Mr. Chinchilla was working on a $1,140,000 million project at the Tichio’s home on Nov. 1, 2010, when he was fatally injured, according to Attorney Glenn Formica of Formica Williams, P.C. in New Haven. Mr. Formica is co-counsel with Attorney Victor Ferrante of Bridgeport in representing Mr. Chinchilla’s estate in a wrongful death suit against Dibico Construction, the contractor on the project and others.

"While standing inside a seven-foot-deep trench, Mr. Chinchilla was attempting to power-wash the Tichio’s stone foundation, without being provided a helmet or escape-ladder, and no shoring to the inside wall of the trench, according to the Greenwich Police report.  Suddenly the front porch structure and its foundation fell away from the house and toppled into the trench, causing it to cave in and bury Mr. Chinchilla. He subsequently died of massive head injuries.  The case is scheduled for a summary judgment hearing on the Tichio’s personal liability for the accident on Feb. 19 in Bridgeport Superior Court.

"The Plaintiff’s law suit alleges that Federal work safety codes and OSHA standards were violated by the Tichios and by Dibico construction in the deadly accident, according to Attorney Formica. “Their negligence failed to provide a way out of trench, in violation of code, which killed Mr. Chinchilla,” said Attorney Formica.

"Mr. Chinchilla’s tragedy is not an isolated incident. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, immigrant workers tackle the riskiest jobs, in fields such as construction or agriculture, often without safety protections or proper training. Studies of immigrants doing reconstruction work in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina showed that they were exposed to “dangerous substances and conditions.”  Another study concluded that 21 of 29 fatal construction accidents in New York City during a recent 12-month period involved workers who were immigrants or had limited English proficiency.

"Two Ecuadorian brothers were working as window washers in New York in 2007 when their scaffolding collapsed, causing them to fall 47 stories. One died, and the other was gravely injured. A migrant farm worker died of heat stroke after picking tobacco in 110 degree weather in North Carolina in 2007, and his internal body temperature was recorded at 108 degrees. Also in 2007, a 14-year-old undocumented worker who had received no safety training was partially decapitated and crushed by machinery in a plant in Tennessee.

 “While I won’t comment on the specifics of the case, I think it is important to understand that our claim against the Tichio’s is a legal claim of negligence.  No one should confuse a legal claim of negligence with intentional conduct.  I imagine they grieve with my client’s family,” said, Attorney Formica. He added “In a larger sense, however, I think it’s time to make visible the many invisible people that are so much a part of the fabric of our everyday lives?”

"These workplace tragedies underscore the need for all workers to have full and complete access to the protections of labor, health, safety and other U.S. laws.


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