Sometimes negligence is treated as a criminal offense, and rightfully so. Recently, a construction subcontractor pleaded guilty to second degree manslaughter in the 2017 death of worker Juan Chonillo, who fell to his death at the 1 Seaport luxury high-rise at 116 Maiden Lane.
The New York Post reported that SSC High Rise admitted guilt in the 44-year-old father’s death, which stemmed from a violation of building codes, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office. SSC was also found to have stolen more than $500,000 in wages from more than 50 workers and failed to report $2 million in payroll.
When negligence leads to death
Many construction worker deaths are preventable. In the Seaport 1 case, Juan Chonillo fell 29 stories to his death after a foreman improperly ordered the movement of a scaffolding platform while workers, including Chonillo, were still on it. This violated New York City Building Code, according to the DA’s office.
This incident again demonstrates the serious risks that construction workers face when they are working at a height. The reality is that every time a worker climbs a ladder or mounts a scaffold, there is the potential for serious injury or death.
The accountability problem continues
The biggest challenge facing workers and their families, prosecutors, regulators and advocates is an accountability problem: Fines and other consequences tend to be mild when contractors and builders are found to be negligent, even when a death has occurred.
In this instance, the negligent subcontractor paid $842,000 in restitution and was fined a meager $10,000 for the worker’s death. Do you think a man’s life is worth $10,000?
Get legal advice if you’ve been a victim
If you or someone you love was hurt while working construction, get advice from an experienced attorney before accepting a settlement. You may be entitled to significant money damages through a third-party injury or wrongful death lawsuit.