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$7.3M Settlement in Case of Worker Killed in Manhole Explosion

Alejandro Collazo, 37, was working on a manhole, when an explosion occurred causing flames to rise about 12 feet in the air.

Corboy & Demetrio obtained a settlement of $7.3 million on behalf of a Commonwealth Edison Company employee who was working as a cable splicer when an electrical explosion occurred inside the manhole where he was working.

Alejandro Collazo, 37, was working on a privately owned manhole at 2:19 a.m. on June 6, 2008, when an explosion occurred causing flames to rise about 12 feet in the air. Collazo was working to remove a de-energized cable line that had faulted three days earlier on the 5100 block of West Roosevelt Road in Chicago. While doing so, a cable splice on an adjacent 12,000 volt line arced and exploded.

Mr. Collazo suffered burns to 77-80 percent of his body and died six months after the explosion. He is survived by his wife and three children, ages 20, 19 and 13, at the time of his death.

The $7.3 million settlement was negotiated by Corboy & Demetrio attorney Edward G. Willer and Robert J. Bingle. Key evidence in this negligence lawsuit was the Root Cause Investigation Report prepared by Commonwealth Edison, which detailed water intrusion into the subject cable which caused it to fail, Willer said.

Liability hotly contested

“The liability quotient in this case was hotly contested,” Willer said. Willer indicated that the issue of water entering the cable before the explosion had been debated in litigation. Some believed that it was due to the failure of the cable splice, which others maintained that Edison failed to maintain the cable ends, allowing water to drop downward into the bottom of the manhole after the explosion.

“The resolution of this case will allow the Collazo family to begin the healing process in this terrible tragedy,” Bingle said.

The name of the cable manufacturer is confidential pursuant to the settlement agreement. Com Ed waived its entire workers compensation lien in excess of $2 million. The case was resolved through mediation before the Hon. Donald P. O’Connell on Nov. 20, 2013.

The case is Estate of Alejandro Collazo, Deceased v. Rubin Bros., Inc., and confidential cable manufacturer, Cook County Circuit Court Case # 2009 L 5151.

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