A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the family of a North Carolina teenager who died from the personal injuries he sustained after becoming entangled in a grinder while working at Pallet Express in Greensboro. The company builds and sells pallets in addition to grinding them to make mulch.
The machine that took the life of 17-year-old Nevy Castaneda was used to mulch damaged pallets.
According to the suit, the safety guard on the grinder was removed by the owners or managers because it was making the machine jam, causing a reduction in productivity. The suit also claims that Pallet Express had been cited in May of 2007 by the N.C. Department of Labor--five months before the accident that killed Castaneda--for removing the guard from the grinder.
The complaint was filed on September 30 and claims that the company and two unnamed supervisors are responsible for Castaneda’s death because they negligently made him perform work that they should have known would be certain to cause serious personal injuries or death.
After Castaneda’s death, the company was investigated by the N.C. Department of Labor and fined for eight violations, including leaving a 14-foot wide area around the shredder, failing to train employees to use machinery safely, and stacking pallets higher than a safe level. The company was fined $12,000.
The suit was filed in Guilford County Superior Court by Luis Castaneda Valenzuela, the only family of Castaneda who lives in the United States. He seeks at least $10,000 in damages.