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Contractor Convicted After Fatal Brooklyn Trench Collapse Accident

Contractor Convicted of Homicide After Brooklyn Worker Killed In Trench Collapse Accident

Contractor Convicted After Fatal Brooklyn Trench Collapse Accident

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK (March 5, 2023) – A construction company operator was convicted of homicide after a worker was killed by 15,000 lbs of falling debris in a Brooklyn trench collapse.

Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez prosecuted the case and called the death a preventable tragedy. The accident took place at a Sunset Park job site back in 2018.

Luis Sánchez Almonte was working in a trench when he was crushed by falling materials. First responders were not able to recover his body until the next morning.

The prosecutor argued that the owner of the construction company willfully ignored cave-in warnings prior to the deadly accident. Defendants also allegedly failed to comply with regulation from the DOB and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

According to the Brooklyn DA, the construction owner played fast and loose with safety protocols in order to increase the profit margin in the business.

Liability For Brooklyn Trench Collapses

Trench collapses can be extremely dangerous and often result in serious injury or death. According to one report from Equipment World, 2019 and 2020 are tied for the second deadliest year for trench collapse accidents in the last decade. The leading cause of trench collapses remains inadequate cave-in protection. There are many other factors that could potentially contribute to a trench collapse.

  • Stress on the top of the soil above a trench can lead to a collapse.
  • A construction company may fail to properly inspect a trench to ensure that it has not become unstable.
  • The soil where the trench was being dug was not properly examined.

Construction companies in New York have a legal obligation to maintain work sites in a reasonably safe condition. They must follow all OSHA and Department of Buildings (DOB) guidelines to prevent accidents. Trench collapses are nearly always preventable and involve some amount of negligence. In general, trench collapse accidents will typically be litigated under three different statutes:  New York Labor Law 200, New York State Labor Law § 240(1),  New York Labor Law 241(6).

  • New York Labor Law 200: This statute is a codification of an employer’s obligation to provide workers with a reasonably safe environment.
  • New York State Labor Law § 240(1): This statute imposes strict liability for general contractors and building owners for gravity related accidents.
  •  New York Labor Law 241(6): This statute creates a non-delegable duty for owners and general contractors who employ workers in construction, demolition, and excavation.

Per New York Labor Law 241(6), owners and general contractors must, “provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to the persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places.” When an owner or general contractor violates a specific safety code, this could form the basis of a negligence claim. As outlined in New York Industrial Code Section 23-4.2, the walls of any trench that is five feet or deeper must be properly shored and braced with sheeting in order to prevent collapses. The family of any worker that is killed in a trench collapse may have legal recourse through a wrongful death claim.

Investigating A Brooklyn Construction Accident

We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of the worker that died in this accident. It is our sincere hope that this rare conviction will serve as a strong deterrent for construction companies that put profits over the lives of their workers. Trench collapses are nearly always preventable when the right safety protocols are being followed.

Have you or someone that you care about been harmed in a New York City construction accident? Our team of construction accident attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that accident victims are aware of their rights and that those rights are being protected. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support after a worksite accident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 800-529-9997.

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Jeff Korek

Jeff S. Korek

Senior Trial Partner​

Jeff S. Korek joined Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. in 1992 as the Senior Trial partner. Known for his meticulous preparation and dedication to his clients, Jeff has obtained some of the state’s highest verdicts and settlements.