- September 1, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Premises Liability
At the Purdue Farms poultry plant in Perry, Georgia, a manager walked into the facility’s “hot room” early the morning of August 8th to find Antonio Ramirez dead by electrocution.
Ramirez was working for a cleaning company called QSI, which contracts with Purdue Farms to clean the facility. He appeared to be cleaning the floor near one of the machines at the time of his death.
The electrical current was still flowing when the manager arrived, and he later reported that he had first thought Ramirez was just bending over to look for something. When the manager approached, however, he felt the current, realized what was happening, shut off the power, and summoned help. Ramirez was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was officially pronounced dead.
Ramirez was 23 years old and is survived by his pregnant wife and 1-year-old child.
For This to Occur, Electrical Systems or Equipment Had to Malfunction
Needless to say, this tragedy never should have been able to happen. Properly designed and maintained factory equipment should have several layers of safeguards to protect workers from being injured while using and servicing it. Simply cleaning near a machine during the plant’s off-hours shouldn’t have been a safety issue.
Someone had to make a big mistake for it to be possible for Ramirez to die the way he did, and it wasn’t Ramirez himself.
It’s possible that the machine had a design flaw that allowed it to short-circuit. If that’s the case, then the machine manufacturer is financially responsible for Ramirez’s wrongful death.
It’s also possible that the machine had nothing to do with the accident directly. The plant’s electrical wiring could have been installed or modified incorrectly. In that case, the electric company might be partially or wholly liable.
Ramirez deserved better. His surviving family deserves answers as to what happened, and compensation from whichever company failed in its duty to keep his workplace safe.
If the Equipment Was Misused or Poorly Maintained, Purdue Farms May Be Responsible
As companies so often do after a worker is killed, Purdue Farms was quick to specify to the press that Ramirez worked for the independent contracting company, QSI, and not directly for them. This means that Purdue Farms is not automatically responsible for Ramirez’s expenses under workers’ comp law, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t be sued.
Companies that invite people onto their premises for any reason, including to perform independent contractor work, have a duty to take reasonable steps to make sure those premises are safe.
Purdue Farms may have bought reputable equipment, maintained it correctly, and had their electrical work done by qualified professionals. They may have had no reason to believe their plant wasn’t safe, and no way of anticipating the possible negligence of their equipment or electricity providers.
However, if Purdue Farms had unqualified personnel make modifications to their systems, or ignored warning signs of a malfunction, then the company could be considered negligent in Ramirez’s death and held financially responsible.
A Wrongful Death Suit Can Ease Burdens and Uncover the Truth
The death of a loved one is always a terrible, inconsolable loss, but it’s infinitely worse when it comes with financial hardships and unanswered questions. A wrongful death suit can spur on a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the person’s death, and provide the survivors with the support they need to grieve and pick up the pieces.
If you are the widow of Antonio Ramirez, or if you have also lost a loved one to a factory or plant accident in Georgia, reach out to The Stoddard Firm to discuss how we can help.