General Contractor Subject to Pay Fine in Avoidable Death of Worker

In April 2015, 22-year-old Carlos Moncayo was killed when a 14-foot deep, unshored trench collapsed. Mr. Moncayo was an undocumented laborer from Ecuador who worked for Sky Materials, which is an excavation subcontractor based in Calverton, Long Island, New York. Alfonso Prestia, the site supervisor plead guilty to criminally negligent homicide and was sentenced to serve community service. The foreman of Sky Materials was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and was sentenced to a year in jail. The company Sky Materials, has yet to be tried.

The general contractor in this incident was Harco Construction LLC. Harco was convicted of manslaughter. However, on Tuesday, December 20, Harco instead was sentenced to pay a $10,000 fine or fund construction-safety public service ads. State law permits a maximum fine of $10,000 in cases of this nature. Kenneth Hart, the owner of Harco Construction LLC, plans to appeal the public service ads and instead only be subject to pay a fine because he believes publishing ads constitutes an admission of guilt and wrongdoing.

Prosecutor Diana Florence and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. have looked to pursue legislation in Albany to ensure that punishment can be more than a fine. Vance urges the State Legislature to “raise the maximum penalty for corporate conduct leading to death or serious physical injury” when they meet during January 2017.

The Moncayo family said “construction companies should not be allowed to get away with the death of their workers, especially when it could have been prevented. The family believes that the law must change to effectively protect workers and their families.”

The construction accident lawyers at Levine & Slavit, PLLC have 60 years of experience handling personal injury claims in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and the surrounding areas. Contact our New York City and long Island personal injury law office at (212) 687-2777.

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