Sister of man ‘buried alive’ files suit in Washington Twp. trench death


The sister of a man who was “buried alive” while working in a trench at a Washington Twp. residence has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the house’s developer, contractor and a subcontractor.

James B. Rogers, 33, of Winchester, died June 15, 2016, after a 12-foot deep trench collapsed on him while working for KRW Plumbing of Jamestown, a company that had a trench collapse about a month earlier at another job site, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administrations (OSHA) records.

Emergency personnel worked for nearly seven hours to extricate Rogers’ body at 463 Claxton Glen near Marshall Road.

RELATED: Family of man who died in trench explores legal options

RELATED: Family of man who died in trench explores legal options

Tara Brown, Rogers’ sister, filed the suit last week in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. The named defendants are contractor South Dayton Builders and Remodelers and its owner Scott Dickey, KRW Plumbing and its owner Richard S. “Rick” Williams and real estate developer and investor Donald C. Wright.

Wright owned the lot and South Dayton Builders and Remodelers hired KRW Plumbing, according to the complaint.

Attorneys for KRW, South Dayton Builders and Wright are not listed in the case’s docket so they could not be reached for comment. No working phone numbers for KRW Plumbing or Williams could be located.

RELATED: Report: Owner ‘did not tell truth’ about hole where worker died

A phone number for South Dayton Builders has been disconnected. Efforts to reach Dickey were unsuccessful. A message also was left with an attorney who has represented Don Wright Realty in other matters, but efforts to get comment were not successful.

Citing multiple OSHA violations against KRW, Brown’s complaint alleges defendants knew a trench in excess of five feet in depth would be needed to connect a sewer line, that the trench would not be dug in stable rock and that it would impose a risk of a cave-in.

South Dayton Remodelers, Wright and Dickey “knew adequate sloping, shoring, or a trench box would be required when digging the trench” at the property, the complaint said.

RELATED: ‘It’s getting deep,’ man texted before death in trench

The lawsuit claims all other defendants knew KRW was a small contractor who did not have adequate education, training or experience about cave-in protection.

According to OSHA’s website, KRW was found to have two “serious” and two “willful” violations from the Washington Twp. collapse, with negotiated penalties totaling nearly $150,000

“This was tragic, preventable death and could have so easily been avoided by taking simple, inexpensive precautions,” Brown said in a statement on behalf of her family provided by her attorney, Craig Matthews. “James can never be replaced, but our family expects those responsible to pay for what they did.”

RELATED: Body of worker trapped in trench found, removed

The complaint said all defendants sent Rogers into a hole “with wet, heavy dirt piled high immediately next to and on only one side of the trench.”

The complaint also alleged South Dayton Builders employees saw Rogers in the trench when it caved in, “burying Rogers alive” and that “Rogers’ desperate cries and groans were heard for some time after the cave in.”

The complaint alleged defendants could have removed any inherent danger by various means, including: digging the trench when the building’s foundation was excavated; building the residence so the trench wasn’t needed in a severely limited area; by not putting down a concrete driveway to prevent piling dirt on both sides of the trench; or by designing a lift box to eliminate the need for a lengthy, deep trench.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow Mark Gokavi on Twitter or Facebook

“The failure of Wright, South Dayton and Dickey to remove the inherent danger through these methods resulted in Rogers’ horrific death,” the suit claimed.

The suit requests a jury trial and damages for wrongful death and survivorship claims.

KRW also was ordered by OSHA to pay a negotiated fine of $74,825 for a May 10, 2016 incident in Beavercreek. That OSHA report said employees “were not adequately protected against cave-ins in that the walls of the trench were not properly sloped, shored, benched or otherwise adequately protected against a collapse.”

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

Also on May 10, 2016, Rogers posted on Facebook that a 12-foot-deep sewer hole he was working in caved in about 10 minutes after he got out of it, Brown’s attorney said in June 2016, adding that Rogers was working for KRW at the Beavercreek site at the time.

“Never again (ain’t) worth it,” Rogers wrote.

DOWNLOAD OUR FREE MOBILE APPS FOR LATEST BREAKING NEWS



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Police investigate shooting reported in Xenia
Police investigate shooting reported in Xenia

Police are investigating a shooting that happened tonight in the area of Pocahontas and South Detroit streets in Xenia. The shooting was reported around 8:15 p.m. According to initial reports, the victim was headed to Greene Memorial Hospital. The victim’s name, age and condition were not available. The suspect is possibly a juvenile, according...
Hostage report leads to Fairfield Twp. SWAT call
Hostage report leads to Fairfield Twp. SWAT call

SWAT officers busted into a house Sunday night amid concerns a hostage could be inside. The breach around 7:15 p.m., which involved a type of concussion grenade, ended the hourslong law enforcement activity in the 1800 block of Pater Avenue with no one found inside the home. Fairfield Twp. police were called around 2 p.m. to a report of a “domestic...
How some local students are spreading kindness through their school
How some local students are spreading kindness through their school

Mason Intermediate students recently found a unique way to spread kindness through their school The “Snowball Challenge” consisted of students sharing thoughtful words throughout the school - specifically on crafted snowballs taped to lockers, and teacher and staff doors. The students were handed a very simple template, and were then instructed...
Trotwood police investigate assault that shuts down road
Trotwood police investigate assault that shuts down road

Trotwood police are investigating an assault Sunday near Meadowdale Elementary School. Crews were dispatched at 2:40 p.m. to Goldenrod Court in Trotwood on a report of a suspicious circumstance involving a vehicle.  The investigation shut down Goldenrod Court at Thompson Drive. Police on scene said it was an assault, but did not discuss the nature...
Boy with 10-pound tumor on face dies after surgery in Florida
Boy with 10-pound tumor on face dies after surgery in Florida

A 14-year-old boy who recently underwent surgery to remove a 10-pound tumor from his face has died, according to news reports. Emanuel Zayas developed the benign tumor while suffering from polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, a genetic disorder in which fibrous tissue begins to replace bone in the body. “Our condolences and prayers for Emanuel's family...
More Stories