Chicago water district sued over poisonous fumes that left workers dead

Ann Maher Jul. 20, 2007, 10:00am

CHICAGO -- The surviving wife of a construction worker killed by poisonous fumes at the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant District last month is suing the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

In a wrongful death suit filed July 19 in Cook County Circuit Court, Amy Kachavos is seeking in excess of $100,000 over the death of her husband, William Kachavos, who died June 20.

According to a June 22 report in the Chicago Tribune, Kachavos, 45, of Flossmoor and Rodolfo Aguilera, 47, of Aurora, collapsed in a vault 10 feet below street level outside the treatment plant.

Kachavos, a foreman, and Aguilera, a laborer, were employed by North West General Contractors.

"One of the workers collapsed while working at the bottom of the vault, and the other collapsed after going to the first man's aid," the Tribune reported. "Officials couldn't say who collapsed first."

The suit claims the water district breached its duty to provide a safe construction site by allowing fumes and gas to accumulate in an underground vault.

The water district is alleged to have created an unsafe condition by allowing poisonous gases to accumulate, failed to alert William Kachavos of the presence of poisonous gas and failed to provide him with appropriate safety equipment when it knew safety equipment was necessary.

The incident occurred at 39th and Central Avenue in Stickney where a construction project was under way at a water purification plant.

Kachavos is represented by Jerry A. Latherow of Chicago.

Amy Kachavos claims she and her children have suffered economic damages as well as loss of society.

The suit also includes a count for survival action.

"William Kachavos suffered conscious pain and suffering prior to his death, and would have been able to bring his own personal injury action if he had survived...," the complaint states.

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