Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The widow and two children of a construction worker who fell to his death at the Hyperion wastewater treatment plant near Playa del Rey were collectively awarded $16.3 million Wednesday in their lawsuit against a construction supply company.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for a day before finding in favor of Rosa Gonzalez and her offspring in their lawsuit against Atlas Construction Supply Inc. She was married for a decade to the decedent, 30-year- old Edgar Alejandro Gonzalez.

The panel found the plaintiffs’ total damages were nearly $27 million, but assessed Atlas’ negligence at 55 percent and attributed the rest of the fault to USS Cal Builders, the contractor for the project. Atlas was the only defendant in the part of the case that went to trial.

Edgar Gonzalez suffered severe head trauma when he fell 30 feet while connected to what the plaintiffs alleged was an improperly secured framework structure which weighed several thousand pounds and partially landed on him when it collapsed.

He worked for USS Cal Builders and was helping to put up a 30-foot wall panel at the coastal plant when the accident occurred on Aug. 2, 2011. The contractor hired Atlas to provide plans and specifications for the design and implementation of the form structures, according to the lawsuit.

USS Cal Builders had been working at Hyperion to construct a gas compressor facility to replace equipment that was about 60 years old.

Rosa Gonzalez, 33, of Sylmar, said outside the courtroom that she was pleased with the verdict. She said she will remember her late husband most for being “genuine” throughout their relationship, which began when they met at a police academy celebration when she was 15 years old.

The widow also sued the crane operator at the site, Mr. Crane Inc., but that part of the case was settled before trial for $650,000. Half of that sum went to her and 25 percent each went to her son, Aaron, 12, and 7-year-old daughter, Atarah.

Attorney Douglas Purdy, on behalf of Atlas, said he was still “digesting” the verdict, but disagreed with it.

–City News Service 

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