Society

Family Sues After Legally Blind Man Crushed By Automatic Trash Compactor

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The widow of a legally blind Illinois man, who was crushed to death in a trash compactor, is suing their condo association for allegedly giving her husband the key without warning him that an electric eye would automatically turn it on.

Roger Mirro, 56, was searching for his cell phone in the garbage at his Palatine condo, according to the suit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court. There were no signs indicating of the dangers of the machine turning on and there was no safety device inside that would have allowed him to stop the compactor.

His wife Donna Mirro is suing the Willow Creek No. 6 Association and Hillcrest Property Management for wrongful death and pain and suffering. She claims no one should have given residents access to the dumpster room, especially someone who is legally blind.

When Roger discovered his phone was missing last summer, he believed he had dropped it into the trash, which he’d thrown down the chute to the basement dumpster.

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

He asked condo association board member Larry Boni for the keys to the basement.

“In this tragic situation, the member of the condo association gave the keys to the client but did not warn him how the machine worked or did not accompany him to the room,” said Donna Mirro’s lawyer, Craig Brown.

Boni allegedly told Roger he was waiting for a call and couldn’t accompany him to the dumpster.

"Mr. Boni failed to warn Roger of the extreme danger that he would face it he accessed the Dumpster and triggered the electronic eye that activates the stationary industrial compactor which was attached to the Dumpster," Donna Mirro says.

Once the trash reaches a certain height in the dumpster, it triggers a photoelectric sensor that turns on the compactor – a hydraulic ram attached to the dumpster.

A ladder was already placed against the dumpster. Roger allegedly climbed it too look inside.

"As a result of losing his balance, Roger fell upon the loading hopper and slid down into the loading chamber of the compactor,” the complaint states. "Due to Roger's size, the compactor's photoelectric sensor signaled the compactor's hydraulic ram to activate and begin a compaction cycle.”

There were no rails or foot rungs to get out.

"As a result of the ram's inevitable progress within the loading chamber, Roger suffered innumerable crushing injuries, ultimately resulting in Roger's death within the compactor sometime during the evening of July 30, 2013," Mirro says.

Furthermore, the suit states that the building management is comprised of volunteers, not professionally trained property managers held to the standards of the American National Standard Insistute.

Sources: Courthouse News Service, Chicago Tribune