Jon Campisi Aug. 20, 2012, 10:40am

The widow of a man who fell to his death while performing framing work at a

construction site has filed a wrongful death claim against the property owners, the contractors for whom the man was working and the pawn shop that sold the allegedly faulty reciprocating saw that contributed to the man’s fall.

Nuria Alvarez-Castaneda, of Philadelphia, is suing on behalf of her deceased husband, Benjamin Alvarez, who died back on Feb. 3, 2011, after falling 11 feet and striking his head on concrete blocks at a construction site in Brielle, N.J.

The lawsuit claims that Alvarez was directed by his supervisors to work on a cornice without any safety gear or other fall protection.

Prior to his fall, the suit claims, Alvarez was not provided with a safety belt, body harness, body belt, lifeline, guardrails, safety net or other form of personal fall arrest system.

Alvarez was in the process of sawing a portion of the cornice with a Hilti reciprocating saw when the device malfunctioned, separated and broke apart, causing Alvarez to lose his balance, and fall to his death, the lawsuit states.

Alvarez ended up sustaining traumatic head and neck injuries including spinal cord fractures and subarachnoid hemorrhages requiring surgery.

Alvarez suffered a cardiac arrest and died on Feb. 12 of last year.

“As a direct and proximate result of the wrongful conduct of defendants, decedent was caused to suffer great pain, suffering and death,” the lawsuit states.

The defendants named in the lawsuit are Alvan Construction Inc., Michael J. Wright Construction, Ford and Jennifer Grigg, Woodland Money Loan and Hilti Inc.

Alvan was the framing contractor hired by Michael J. Wright Construction, while Ford and Jennifer Grigg owned the property where the incident took place.

Woodland Money Loan is the pawn shop that sold the Hilti reciprocating saw that allegedly contributed to Alvarez’s death, while Hilti Corp. is the company that manufactured the saw.

Prior to the accident, the lawsuit claims, Alvan Construction and Michael J. Wright Construction had received multiple citations for safety violations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to provide guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems or alternative fall protection measures to their workers.

“In conformity with their past conduct, and evidencing their willful, wanton and reckless intent, defendants failed to engage in any safety programs, safety training, provide safety devices or fall protection equipment to plaintiff’s decedent and his co-workers at the construction site …,” the complaint reads.

Alvarez was the father of four children.

The complaint contains counts of wrongful death, negligence, intentional employment tort, peculiar risk of harm, strict product liability and breach of warranty.

There is also a survival action claim.

The plaintiff seeks judgment in excess of $50,000, plus punitive damages, interest, litigation costs and delay damages.

The suit was filed Aug. 14 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by attorney Andrew M. Ominsky of the firm Ominsky & Ominsky P.C.

A jury trial has been demanded.


The case ID number is 120801332.

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