CHICAGO (CN) - A legally blind man was crushed to death in a Dumpster when his condo association gave him a key to it without telling him its electric eye activates the trash compactor, his widow claims in court.
Donna Mirro sued Willow Creek No. 6 Association and Hillcrest Property Management on behalf of her late husband, Roger Mirro, in Cook County Court.
The Mirros lived in the Willow Creek condos, a four-story, 110-unit complex in Palatine. Donna says she last saw her husband alive on the morning of July 30, 2013, when they both left for work.
"On July 30, 2013, as was typical, Roger traveled by bus to his job and completed a full day's work before returning home by bus around 3:30 in the afternoon," the complaint states.
"Roger always traveled to and from work by bus because he was legally blind due to optic nerve damage and unable to drive.
"Sometime after 5:00 p.m. on July 30, 2013, Roger discovered that his cell phone was missing.
"After searching his residence, Roger feared that he had accidently dropped his cell phone into a bag of garbage which he had already discarded into the trash chute that carried refuse from his floor of the condominium complex into a Dumpster in the basement of the building."
Roger asked Larry Boni, a member of the condo association board, for keys to the basement so he could look for his phone, the widow says.
"Mr. Boni informed Roger that he was waiting for a call and could not accompany Roger to search the Dumpster, but Mr. Boni gave Roger the key to the Dumpster room and invited Roger to search for the phone by himself, according to the lawsuit.
"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," his widow says.
When trash accumulates to a certain level in the trash compactor, a photoelectric sensor triggers a hydraulic ram which that the trash into an attached Dumpster, according to the complaint.
"At or about 6:45 p.m. on July 30, 2013, Roger climbed up the ladder that was already positioned next to the compactor so that he could look into the loading chamber for the bag of garbage that he had disposed down the trash chute after he returned from work.
"While Roger was leaning over and peering into the unguarded loading hopper of the compactor, Roger lost his balance due to either: (i) being struck by refuse that had been sent down the trash chute by a resident of the condominium complex; or (ii) overextending his body over the loading hopper.
"As a result of losing his balance, Roger fell upon the loading hopper and slid down into the loading chamber of the compactor.
"Due to Roger's size, the compactor's photoelectric sensor signaled the compactor's hydraulic ram to activate and begin a compaction cycle.
"Once activated, there was no control or safety device within the loading chamber of the compactor which would enable Roger to halt the progress of the hydraulic ram.
"The loading chamber of the compactor was not equipped with any foot or hand rungs or pegs which would allow a person trapped inside the ability to scale its sheer metal walls.
"Injured, frightened, disoriented and alone, Roger could do nothing to thwart the inexorable progress of the ram, or relieve the pressure building from the resulting compaction.
"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.
She claims the association failed to place signs outside the Dumpster room, or on the compactor itself, warning of the dangers of the machine, especially the photoelectric sensor.
She seeks damages for wrongful death and pain and suffering.
She is represented by Craig Brown with Meyers & Flowers in St. Charles.