Attorneys for a Milford man who died after falling from a ladder at a construction site have filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking millions of dollars against the building’s owner.
The estate of Francisco Martija filed suit March 14 in Milford Superior Court against the TIAA Board of Overseers, which owns the 230,000-square-foot complex where Martija died last July. It claimed the ladder the 62-year-old man used at the job site was improperly secured and had no safety harness.
Plaintiff counsel, Jonathan Perkins, Tuesday said he will seek a jury trial and an award “at least in the seven figures, if not in the eight figures” against TIAA.
TIAA had not assigned an attorney to the case as of press time Tuesday, and no one from its media relations department responded to a request for comment.
Martija died soon after he fell from the six-foot stepladder placed on top of a mobile scaffold on a building at 10 Westport St. in Wilton. He was repairing a leak in a window on the roof, when he lost his balance and crashed headfirst into the concrete below, according to Perkins. It is not clear how many feet Martija fell or whether he was wearing a hard hat, said Perkins, who hopes to learn more during discovery.
Martija worked for Property Group Partners of Wilton, who are not defendants in the lawsuit, although Perkins said additional defendants could be added during the discovery process.
Meanwhile, plaintiff’s counsel remains focused on TIAA, and what he describes as the company’s failure to toward Martija.
“They did not provide or train him in the use of appropriate safety equipment for someone working at an elevation like that,” said Perkins, who heads Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers. “They did not train him on how to work safely in heights like he was working on at the time. It is highly dangerous work, and they did not provide proper equipment, training or supervision.”
Plus, Perkins maintains, the ladder was not properly erected.
“It’s my understanding that the ladder was being used in a closed, rather than open, position,” he said. “If either the scaffold or the ladder had moved, he would have been more prone, because the ladder was in a closed position, to fall and a long way down.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has investigated and cited Property Group Partners for violating federal regulations governing ladder usage. But OSHA did not cite TIAA.
Perkins said it is not unusual for the regulator to take action against one company, and not the other.
“OSHA tends to focus largely on the employer since they deal with occupational safety,” Perkins said. “But TIAA was the owner of the property, and they had control of the property.”
A judge has yet to be assigned to the case.