Granholm Cites Two Builders In Workers Deaths

June 14, 2002
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LANSING — Attorney General Jennifer Granholm recently filed criminal charges against two construction companies in connection with the work-site deaths of two employees.

Lanzo Construction Co. of Roseville and company Vice President Angelo D’Alessandro were charged with one count each of involuntary manslaughter, and criminal violation of a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA) regulation which caused the death of an employee.

The state alleges that worker Robert Whiteye was crushed to death on a rain-soaked excavation site after the trench he was working in collapsed.

Although safety regulations call for an eight-foot-wide trench-box to protect workers from cave-ins, Granholm said Lanzo Construction only provided Whiteye with a four-foot wide box.

JA Morrin Concrete Construction Co. of Toledo and company foreman James Morrin Jr. face identical charges for allegedly causing the death of truck driver Robert Sorge. Sorge  was electrocuted when he raised the bed of his gravel truck into a 7,600-volt electrical line that was located directly above the work site.

Granholm said Morrin Concrete had been notified twice prior to Sorge’s death that the power lines were too low to allow employees to work directly under the lines. But Morrin reportedly ordered Sorge to raise the truck bed while he was parked underneath the high-voltage lines.

“Because of the very nature of their businesses, construction companies and their managers have an unquestionable responsibility to keep the men and women on their work sites safe and protected.

“When construction companies drop the ball on safety, people die; it’s as simple, and as tragic, as that,” said Granholm.

Involuntary manslaughter is a felony punishable by 15 years in prison and/or a fine of $7,500. A willful violation of MIOSHA that results in a death is also a felony and punishable by one year in prison and a $10,000 fine or both.

MIOSHA investigated both incidents.

Charges against Lanzo Construction were filed in Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, while charges against Morrin Concrete were filed in 38th Circuit Court in Monroe.

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