Construction worker's family files wrongful-death lawsuit
The family of a Carroll construction worker who died from carbon-monoxide poisoning at a job site more than a year ago filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Monday against Rotert Construction, the man’s former employer.
Steve Weeks, 55, died Dec. 12, 2010, inside a six-unit housing complex that Rotert built on the south side of Carroll, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 71 and Ely Drive.
Weeks’ wife, Janet Weeks, and his daughter, Holly Hunter, allege that Dean Pottebaum, co-owner of Rotert, was “grossly negligent” when he asked Steve Weeks to refuel three gasoline-powered generators inside the building that night.
Weeks “was overcome by the accumulated carbon monoxide which had built up” inside the building, the lawsuit says.
Pottebaum did not return a telephone call today to comment for this story, but in an interview with the Daily Times Herald in 2010, Pottebaum said he used the generators to heat the concrete floor in the building to prevent cracks. He said the generators were indoors that weekend to prevent a passerby from stealing them, and that he assumed they were safe to operate in the building because the roof wasn’t yet insulated and would vent the exhaust.
“He was a good guy. Very reliable and a hard worker,” Pottebaum said of Weeks at the time. “It’s real tough losing him. It’s shocking.”
Weeks went to the building to refuel the generators — which had been running indoors for at least two days — at about 7 p.m.
Janet Weeks found him unconscious inside the building about an hour later. The couple had celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary the day before.
Weeks was the fifth and final Rotert employee to refuel the generators that weekend, Pottebaum has said, and no others died or were injured.
Janet Weeks and Hunter seek unspecified damages with the lawsuit for funeral costs, loss of income, physical and mental pain and suffering, and others.
They have asked for a jury trial to settle the matter.
Rotert had also faced Iowa Occupational Safety and Health sanctions, but it’s unclear whether it has been fined. A spokeswoman at the office did not return a telephone call to comment this morning.
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