In April of 2015, a tragic construction accident occurred in Manhattan work site when an unreinforced trench collapsed, crushing a worker. The collapse resulted in the wrongful death of Carlos Moncayo, a 22-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant.
According to both city and federal regulations, construction work involving trenches deeper than five feet requires that the trenches be properly shored to prevent such a collapse. The project, under the supervision of Harco Construction, had workers performing duties in trenches up to 14 feet deep without proper reinforcement. A supervisor at the site instructed the workers to exit the pit, but the mostly Spanish-speaking workers stayed. Shortly after, the walls caved in and crushed Moncayo.
Criminal charges were brought against the construction site managers for their negligence in the death of Moncayo. The District Attorney for Manhattan at the time, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., argued that the horrific accident was “foreseeable and avoidable.” Subsequently, three months after the incident, the Buildings Department issued stop-work orders at all construction sites using Harco as a contractor, citing rampant unsafe working conditions. The company’s disregard for employee safety and established jobsite parameters ultimately cost a worker his life. According to prosecutors, the two managers responsible for the site and its workers, “had ignored repeated warnings for months from private inspectors that treacherous conditions existed at the site on Ninth Avenue.” In June of 2016, Harco Construction was found guilty of manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and criminally negligent homicide. The penalty imposed on the contracting company was a meager $10,000 fine, the legal limit in New York State.
Following public outcry due to the “slap on the wrist” treatment of Harco Construction for such a serious offense, a bill was proposed in the New York State Senate. The construction safety legislation, known as Carlos’ Law, is aimed at protecting workers by imposing harsher monetary penalties on negligent companies when their workers are injured or killed. After being stalled for years in the New York State Senate, the bill has recently moved forward through both houses of the state legislature, and is currently awaiting approval from Governor Kathy Hochul. If enacted, Carlos’ Law will be a step forward to creating a safer environment for construction workers. Improved legislature to increase worker safety should always be celebrated, however, rules can only do so much to protect laborers. The best way to receive full compensation for an accident is to hire a proven injury attorney.
The Grandelli Firm has generated many multimillion-dollar recoveries for victims of construction accidents and their families.
If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in an accident on a construction site, contact our firm to discuss your rights with a free consultation.