Suit filed in landfill death
A wrongful death suit has been filed against J. Kimmes Construction Inc. and its insurance company, Acuity, by the wife of Harold "Tim" Olsen, one of four men killed by toxic fumes at the Lakehead Blacktop & Materials Inc. landfill in the vil...
A wrongful death suit has been filed against J. Kimmes Construction Inc. and its insurance company, Acuity, by the wife of Harold "Tim" Olsen, one of four men killed by toxic fumes at the Lakehead Blacktop & Materials Inc. landfill in the village of Superior on Nov. 1, 2007. Olsen, 47, of Foxboro, was a heavy equipment operator and landfill manager for Lakehead.
The complaint, filed May 15, accuses the construction company of one count of negligence and one count of safe place violation for failing to provide a safe workplace, adequate supervision, proper maintenance and adequate safety measures at the landfill.
No damages are listed in the complaint, filed by Superior Attorney Toby Marcovich. In Wisconsin, the complaint gives the bare essentials needed to get the case into court, the attorney said, and all the other information is compiled during the discovery process.
Although an employee is not allowed to sue an employer in Wisconsin, Marcovich contends that the landfill site was owned by J. Kimmes Construction Inc., not Lakehead.
The four men who perished at the construction materials landfill were overcome by hydrogen sulfide gas, lost consciousness and fell into a water-filled pit as one after another climbed inside the confined space to assist. Joseph Kimmes III, a co-owner of Lakehead, originally entered the space to attempt repair of a leachate pump. Also killed on the scene were his brother and co-owner, Scott Kimmes, Olsen and Paul Cossalter, an independent electrical contractor.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Lakehead Blacktop & Materials of Superior for serious safety violations in the wake of the deadly accident. The company was fined $4,200.
The Department of Labor faulted Lakehead for failing to identify work areas that should have been flagged and labeled "permit-required confined spaces." As such, people working in these areas would have been provided with training and air monitoring equipment to help identify potentially dangerous conditions.
Olsen's widow, Cathy, has received worker's compensation benefits related to the accident, according to Marcovich.
They are, he said, "pretty meager compared to what the real damages are. We're trying to do better for her."
The construction company and the Sheboygan, Wis.-based Acuity have until June 29 to respond to the complaint.
The Superior number listed to J. Kimmes Construction Inc. dials up Monarch Paving instead. According to that company, J. Kimmes was sold more than a year ago.
Bret Blizzard, director of communications for Acuity, said the company had "no comment on pending litigation."