Wrongful Death Case – Rodriguez versus Osterkamp Farms
Plaintiff Carolina Orejel De Rodriguez sued Osterkamp Farms dba Osterkamp Ranches. The wrongful death claim was for the terminal of life of her husband Jose Rodriguez - 60 years old. He passed away in the course of his employment as a low wage trucker.
Before his death, he had been an independent truck owner-operator. The decedent hauled loads of sugar beets from Osterkamp Farms. He left behind his wife and six adult kids.
On May 19, 2015, at 3:30 a.m., decedent and one of the defendant's beet harvester machine operators were near their respective autos. The two of them perhaps were at the rear of the beet harvester machine either talking or attempting to make mud clear from the harvester.
At this point, the machine operator left the rear of the beet harvester, entered the cab of his tractor. So as decedent stood near the machine, the other man engaged the power. He did so even though he knew or should have known Rodriguez had been cleaning mud from the machine. So the operator negligently failed to check for a human in the area.
So the harvester ran for 30-60 seconds. At this point, the operator walked back to the rear of the equipment. He then noticed the pieces of decedent's mangled, dead body inside the harvester.
Contrast this with the defendant's arguments in this wrongful death action. Their attorneys alleged in their verified answer that the decedent had some partial fault. Defendant's lawyers asserted that the decedent should have known there would be an industrial accident if he stood near the machine.
Also, the defense suggested that Rodriguez should have known power to the harvester was going to be switched on. So the defense claimed Rodriguez placed himself in danger. They claimed he was a bystander and not essential to the harvester machine.
Although he made about $15,000 per year and despite the defense arguments, Ehline and the other injury lawyers helping with the case secured $1,037,500. For the survivors, this was a successful wrongful death case.
Associated Press: "Trucker Killed in Loading Accident on Sugar Beet Farm." AgWeb - The Home Page of Agriculture. N.p., 20 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.