Relatives of a trucking company employee who died two years after being paralyzed from being hit by a big rig that backed into him at a La Mirada yard in 2017 are suing the company, alleging that alarms that sound when trucks are in reverse were disconnected due to noise complaints by neighbors.
The Norwalk Superior Court lawsuit was brought Wednesday against Estes Express Lines Inc. and several life insurance companies by Claudia Dominguez, widow of the late Gilbert Dominguez, and the couple’s daughters, Angelica Hernandez and Gisell Escalera.
A representative for Estes Express did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Gilbert Dominguez was severely hurt when a big rig backed into him at Estes Express’ sister company, Estes Terminals, while he was working at the Alondra Boulevard yard on Dec. 4, 2017, the suit states. He did not know the truck was approaching because the alarm that normally would have sounded while the truck was moving in reverse had been removed from all trucks in the yard after nearby residents complained of the sound, according to the suit.
The main focus of the suit is on what the family maintains is the wrongful denial of death benefits by Estes Express on grounds Gilbert Dominguez was fired while paralyzed and unable to work because of his injuries. After his Oct. 28, 2019 death, Escalera sought work, disability and death benefits on behalf of herself, her sister and their mother from the trucking company as well as the life insurance firms, the suit states.
The plaintiffs were told for the first time that Gilbert Dominguez had been fired and so they were not entitled to any benefits, the suit states. Estes Express instead gave a “false narrative” that he had failed to return to work after his leave was over, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs believe Estes Express discriminated against Gilbert Dominguez because of his severe injuries and that the firm sought to prevent him from being a potential whistleblower by firing him so he would not talk about the allegedly dangerous conditions at Estes Terminals, the suit states.