El Paso Times Features $4.4 Million Jury Verdict for Construction Trench Collapse Case

El Paso Times
Publication Date: 05/27/2010

May 27–EL PASO — A jury has issued a $4.4 million verdict in favor of an El Paso construction worker seriously injured when a trench collapsed in the Upper Valley.

Oscar Avalos was laying pipe in the ground when a trench support system failed, causing thousands of pounds of dirt and heavy metal plates to fall atop him, the lawsuit stated. It happened off Doniphan Drive on Sept. 14, 2006, the lawsuit stated.

In his lawsuit, Avalos claimed that general contractor Nowak Construction Co. Inc. failed to provide a safe work environment. Nowak Construction is a Kansas corporation that works in El Paso.

A jury in 327th District Court earlier this month returned a verdict in favor of Avalos, now 54.
“Shortchanging safety inflicts tragic injury. He was crushed,” said Avalos’ lawyer, Jim Scherr.
Avalos’ spleen was shattered, his pancreas was removed in emergency surgery, and he had broken bones in his back, multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung, Scherr said.

Avalos is now disabled, Scherr said. The lawsuit also mentioned that he is unable to perform household tasks.
Milton C. Colia, an El Paso lawyer representing Nowak Construction, would say only that the company planned to fight the decision.

Daniel Borunda may be reached at dborunda@elpasotimes.com; 546-6102.

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