On August 15, 2016, Jorge Gomez, an employee of H&M International Transportation, was operating a lifting machine at his work site when a cargo container fell on the vehicle he was operating in Jersey City, New Jersey. Gomez’s body was crushed and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
His widow Carmen Rosa Gomez has filed a federal lawsuit against several companies for an unsafe workplace, unsafe equipment and inadequate training.
Initial investigations showed that a cable on the machine that raised the shipping container snapped, causing the cargo container to fall on Gomez.
Nine defendants named in lawsuit
The lawsuit names H&M International Transportation, Technical Services International, Consolidated Rail Corporation, Norfolk Southern Railroad, Mi-Jack Products, FedEx Freight, Hoist Liftruck Manufacturing, PMX Industries and General Cable Industries as defendants in the case.
The suit claims that the above listed defendants’ or their agents acted recklessly or with “callous indifference to the constitutional rights of others”, according to The Jersey Journal. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory damages, pre-and post-judgment interest, punitive damages and legal fees.
In their response to the lawsuit, FedEx, H&M, Norfolk Southern and Mi-Jacks blamed Gomez for the incident that caused his death.
Additionally, the lawsuit claims that the vehicle Gomez operated was not safe. The facility where Gomez was working was inspected following the accident by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA cited H&M International Transportation for not ensuring that each operator was suitably trained and assessed on using the trucks that were used for unloading and loading trains.
In the evaluation, OSHA also cited that operators were exposed to injuries because they were working with vehicles that should have been taken out of service due to known maintenance issues.
OSHA proposed penalties to H&M International Transportation of $20,000 for the two citations. At this time, H&M is within the period that the company can appeal the citations.