AP NEWS

Idaho Supreme Court sides with family of worker killed

December 22, 2019 GMT

CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Supreme Court on Friday issued a ruling allowing the family of a Caldwell worker who died on the job to sue the employer for wrongful death.

The Idaho Press reports families were previously only entitled to workers’ compensation claims under state law and could not sue if they received such benefits.

The 4-1 ruling sides with the family of Francisca Gomez, 63, of Parma, who had filed a lawsuit against Crookham Company in Caldwell after the woman’s death at work in January 2016.

Gomez died of injuries after her hair was caught in machinery while cleaning a seed-sorting machine.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued “serious” violations against the company and the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit after receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

The lawsuit was dismissed by the 3rd District Court and was appealed to the state Supreme Court, which heard the case twice in a highly unusual turn of events.

The court ruled on Friday for the family, whose attorneys argued that an exception can be made when the employer acts with “willful or unprovoked physical aggression.”

Crookham Company officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.