Kevin Otto, owner of Atlantic Drain Services, pleaded not guilty to two charges of manslaughter stemming from a South End trench collapse that killed two Atlantic Drain employees in October 2016. Otto was released on personal recognizance after arguing that he had no money to post bail.
Two Atlantic Drain Services employees, Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks, were working in a 14-foot-deep trench on Dartmouth Street last October when a water main broke, flooding the trench and trapping the two men, who drowned. A subsequent investigation found that Atlantic Drain Services had failed to reinforce the trench, as required by federal regulations.
Prior to the accident, Atlantic Drain Services had been fined twice, once in 2007 and once in 2012, for failing to shore up trench walls. An investigation into the 2016 accident led to indictments against Atlantic Drain Services and Otto for manslaughter, misleading an investigator and concealing a record after it was discovered that someone had forged signatures on training certificates for safety training courses required for Atlantic Drain Services employees.
This case illustrates the extra risks that some employees face on the job. Some construction site accidents are avoidable when safety rules are followed, and both employers and employees have a responsibility under the law to maintain a safe workplace. Those who skirt the rules, either to save time or to save money, take risks with expensive and potentially lethal consequences. The indictments against Ott and Atlantic Drain Services, as well as past evidence of safety violations, point to unnecessary dangers that some employees face. In 2017 this is unacceptable.
Sheff Law maintains its commitment to job safety through its representation of workers hurt on the job and through the Massachusetts Workplace Safety Task Force created by the Massachusetts Bar Association. We provide free consultations to workers hurt on the job. Call us at 1-888-0423-4477 or contact us online.