Erik Hilario died January 6, 2011 after a fire at Sewell Recycling Southeast in East Point.
ATLANTA - A jury has sided with the family of a worker burned alive at a local recycling company.
Erik Hilario died January 6, 2011 while at work at Newell Recycling Southeast in East Point.
His family filed suit claiming the process the company used to empty vehicle's gas tanks before crushing them was unsafe.
"They had to have somebody come along and push the scrap up with front end loader, a big piece of equipment, pushing the metal along the concrete, which everybody admitted in the case, ultimately was a spark risk," explained attorney Alan Hamilton of Shiver Hamilton, LLC., who represented the family.
A Fulton County Jury found for the Hilario family and decided Newell should pay them $29,250,000. The jury was set to deliberate on additional punitive damages, when both sides reached a settlement instead.
"At the end of the day, what it really hopefully counts for is to make recycling and really, commercial operations that put people in danger, that safety has to be at least as important and really, more important than moving quickly and maximizing profits," said Hamilton.
The dollar figure of the final settlement is confidential.
Newell Recycling Southeast released a statement to FOX 5, that reads:
The accident that happened on January 6, 2011, was a tragedy, and the entire Newell organization deeply regrets what happened at its East Point facility. Newell has heard the verdict loud and clear, and after several years of litigation and a trial that lasted two weeks, the case resolved post-verdict by way of a confidential settlement. This confidential settlement has the effect of fully and finally resolving many outstanding legal issues that were raised during the course of the trial, and that would have been considered by the Georgia Court of Appeals absent the settlement. Importantly, this confidential settlement brings closure to this matter for the entire Hilario family who lost their loved one, and it brings closure to this long legal battle for the Newell organization. Jeff Shiver and Alan Hamilton tried an excellent case and advocated very well on behalf of their client. There are several reasons why this case went to trial, and the entire defense team, including Dan McGrew, Lee Clayton, Neil Edwards, and Dan Kingsley, deserves credit for working tirelessly to provide Newell Recycling of Atlanta, Inc., with the strong defense that it deserved.