Teens Suffocate to Death at Yankee Springs Dairy Farm as Owner Orders Them to Work in Tank Filled With Toxic Fumes

SOMMERS SCHWARTZ LAW OFFICES OF SOUTHFIELD AND SINAS DRAMIS LAW OFFICES OF LANSING FILE SUITS ON BEHALF OF FRANCISCO JAVIER MENDEZ MARTINEZ AND VICTOR PEREZ

Sep 22, 2011, 10:00 ET from Sommers Schwartz, P.C.

GRAND RAPIDS. Mich., Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Sommers Schwartz, P.C.. of Southfield, Michigan AND Sinas Dramis, P.C. of Lansing, Michigan, announce that copies of these lawsuits and pictures of the deceased young men will be made available to ALL media and the mother of Martinez and the parents of Perez, respectively, will read statements on Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 11:00 A.M. at the JW Marriott, 235 Louis Street, N.W., Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Questions from the media will be answered as well.  

News Briefing Details

What:  The parents of Francisco Javier Mendez Martinez and Victor Perez have filed lawsuits in state and federal courts, claiming their sons died after being wrongfully ordered by the owner of a dairy farm where they worked to clean the interior of a 6 foot by 8 foot polyurethane tank.  The tank was used to store molasses, a liquid feed additive for cattle. The tank became a death trap because decaying molasses, when exposed to moisture and heat, emits a toxic gas, hydrogen sulfide.  Although Francisco and Victor complained to Paul Lettinga, the owner of the farm, that it was "gassy" and difficult to breathe inside the tank, they were ordered to finish the task by taking turns inside the tank.  The families of Francisco and Victor believe that when one of the boys who went inside the tank did not respond to the other, the second boy entered the tank and both were overwhelmed with toxic fumes.  The boys were ultimately found dead, laying face down in the thick brown liquid. Toxicology studies confirmed that the boys had inhaled hydrogen sulfide.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) investigated the incident, which occurred on June 15, 2010.  Yankee Springs Dairy Farm was cited for not having proper safety programs in place and fined.    

The lawsuits allege that the owner of the dairy farm knew that requiring the boys to work in a confined space with fermenting molasses would result in injury or death.

Who:  Plaintiffs in this case will be in attendance, along with Sommers Schwartz attorney, Robert Sickels and Sinas Dramis attorneys, Jim Hofer and Janet Mendez.  Copies of the lawsuit and pictures of the deceased teens will be available and distributed to the media.

When: Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 11:00 A.M.

Where: JW Marriott, 235 Louis Street, N.W., Grand Rapids, Michigan.  

SOURCE Sommers Schwartz, P.C.