WBEZ | wrongful deaths http://www.wbez.org/tags/wrongful-deaths Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Company: Temporary worker to blame for his fatal burns http://www.wbez.org/news/company-temporary-worker-blame-his-fatal-burns-104753 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/raani-outside.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Raani Corp., a Bedford Park manufacturer of household and grooming products, denies negligence in a wrongful-death suit filed by survivors of the worker, Carlos Centeno. (Logan Jaffe/WBEZ)" /></p><p>The company that was supervising a Chicago-area temporary worker when he suffered fatal burns in 2011 says the man failed to take &ldquo;proper precautions&rdquo; in its factory and calls his conduct &ldquo;the sole proximate cause of the injuries.&rdquo;</p><p>Raani Corp., a Bedford Park manufacturer of household and grooming products, makes those accusations and denies negligence in a 66-page <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/119414572">answer</a> to a wrongful-death suit that survivors of Carlos Centeno, 50, filed in Cook County Circuit Court last year.</p><p>Centeno, a Humboldt Park resident&nbsp;scalded over most of his body with a hot citric-acid solution November 17, 2011, died three weeks later in a burn unit of Loyola University Hospital in Maywood. The death triggered inspections by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Those inspections led OSHA to fine the company $473,000 last May for 14 alleged violations.</p><p>An internal OSHA memo, obtained as part of an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/98-minutes-radio-story-104504">investigation</a> by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity and WBEZ, says more than 98 minutes elapsed after the incident before Centeno reached the hospital.</p><p>Factory officials refused to call an ambulance as Centeno awaited help, shirtless and screaming, OSHA investigators contended. Instead of calling 911, the company had another temporary worker drive Centeno to an occupational health clinic that was not set up to treat life-threatening burns.</p><p>In its court filing, Raani claims Centeno &ldquo;assumed the risk of any injuries allegedly sustained as a result of his conduct&rdquo; and &ldquo;knew or reasonably should have known of the substances that were used in the activities conducted at the places where he worked.&rdquo;</p><p>As Centeno cleaned a 500-gallon tank from which the acid solution erupted, &ldquo;he knew or reasonably should have known of the possible risks of personal injury,&rdquo; the Raani filing adds. &ldquo;By voluntarily undertaking to work with such substances, [Centeno] elected to accept such possible risks.&rdquo;</p><p>The company&rsquo;s position amounts to &ldquo;pouring more acid on an open wound,&rdquo; Stephan D. Blandin, an attorney for Centeno&rsquo;s survivors, said.</p><p>&ldquo;The family has been trying to get over Carlos&rsquo;s loss for well over a year now,&rdquo; Blandin said. &ldquo;Here is somebody who is pleading to be taken to the emergency room and they&rsquo;re intentionally denying him care. And they&rsquo;re blaming him for it now. It&rsquo;s just reprehensible.&rdquo;</p><p>Raani&rsquo;s filing also denies the family&rsquo;s claim that Centeno&rsquo;s employer was Ron&rsquo;s Staffing Services Inc., a temporary-staffing firm based in Northbrook that assigned him to the factory. The family&rsquo;s claim, experts say, is crucial for expanding damages beyond workers&rsquo; compensation, a form of insurance that Illinois requires of employers.</p><p>&ldquo;Ron&rsquo;s Staffing is the employer,&rdquo; said Leone José Bicchieri, executive director of the Chicago Workers Collaborative, a group that advocates for temporary workers. &ldquo;It has the W-2s. It pays the worker. It is in charge of workers&rsquo; comp and all aspects of employment.&rdquo;</p><p>Client companies such as Raani&nbsp;are happy shifting employment responsibility to a staffing agency such as&nbsp;Ron&rsquo;s&nbsp;until a worker is injured,&nbsp;Bicchieri said. &ldquo;Now, suddenly, the client company says it is the direct employer. This is just a game of ping-pong.&rdquo;</p><p>H. Patrick Morris, Raani&rsquo;s attorney in the case, did not return WBEZ&rsquo;s calls for comment after filing the company&rsquo;s answer to the suit.</p><p>Jeffrey Kehl, a lawyer for Ron&rsquo;s Staffing, has declined to comment about the case.</p><p>Raani is also contesting the OSHA citations, six of which the agency classified as willful, indicating &ldquo;plain indifference&rdquo; toward employee safety and health. The agency says it has made no decision on whether it will refer the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution.</p><p>OSHA hadn&rsquo;t inspected the Raani factory for 18 years before the Centeno incident.&nbsp;The WBEZ and Center for Public Integrity investigation found that the federal government is not keeping close track of temporary-worker injuries.</p><p><em>The <a href="http://www.publicintegrity.org/">Center for Public Integrity</a>&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/jim-morris">Jim Morris</a> contributed reporting.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Jan 2013 16:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/company-temporary-worker-blame-his-fatal-burns-104753 Jury clears cops in schizophrenic man’s death http://www.wbez.org/story/jury-clears-cops-schizophrenic-man%E2%80%99s-death-93555 <p><p>A federal jury Thursday afternoon cleared two Chicago police officers in the fatal shooting of a schizophrenic man in his Northwest Side bedroom.<br> <br> Raúl Barriera, 21, died the day after Sgt. Don Jerome struck him in the chest with a Taser electrode and Patrol Officer Andrew Hurman hit him twice with gunfire.<br> <br> Barriera lived with his mother, Lynette Wilson, at 1630 N. Tripp Ave. Wilson brought a lawsuit alleging that the officers used excessive force and that the death was wrongful.<br> <br> The shooting took place February 28, 2007, after Wilson called 911 for help with Barriera, who was refusing to leave his bedroom. In that call, Wilson said her son was a schizophrenic on medication. Paramedics and police officers arrived but Barriera remained in his room.<br> <br> The officers said they used their weapons after Barriera lunged at them with a knife. Wilson’s attorneys disputed that claim.<br> <br> The trial lasted eight days and ended Wednesday. The jury, an eight-member panel, deliberated for about three hours before clearing the city and the officers of liability.<br> <br> Arlene Martin, a city attorney in the case, praised the jurors. “The right thing happened,” she said.<br> <br> Before the trial, U.S. Judge William J. Hibbler threw out a claim by Wilson that the officers lacked sufficient training. WBEZ revealed in 2007 that neither Jerome nor Hurman had attended a 40-hour police department course designed to help officers respond to mental-health crises without using force.<br> <br> Since 2004, the department has put about 1,400 of its officers through the training. A 2008 study by Amy Watson, an associate professor of social work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, found that the training had results.<br> <br> “The trained officers were less likely to . . . pile on top of the person to control them, use a Taser or use some other type of force,” Watson says. “We also found that [the trained] officers directed more people to mental health services.”<br> <br> After the jury returned with its findings, one of Wilson’s attorneys told WBEZ there could be grounds for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to order a retrial. The attorney, Standish Willis, called it “very likely” that Wilson would bring that appeal.</p></p> Thu, 27 Oct 2011 23:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/jury-clears-cops-schizophrenic-man%E2%80%99s-death-93555