Performance Builders, already fined for construction worker's de - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Performance Builders, already fined for construction worker's death, faces lawsuit

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Picketers stand near a Performance Builders job site in Las Vegas (FOX5). Picketers stand near a Performance Builders job site in Las Vegas (FOX5).
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

A construction company found responsible for an unsafe scaffold that killed one of its employees at Tivoli Village in August of 2016 is now facing a lawsuit.

Ricardo Bautista was 30-years-old when the scaffold he was working on collapsed. Employees at Performance Builders Incorporated received paperwork on Tuesday stating Bautista's widow, Jacquelyne Bautista, has filed a lawsuit.

It has been almost a year and a half since the collapse. FOX5 was kicked out of the building when attempting to seek comment.

"Such a simple act could have saved a life," attorney Tom Askeroth said. "We hope it goes to trial. We absolutely do. That's what our client wants. That's what I think the community deserves, and that's our intent."

OSHA fined Performance Builders for two serious violations that resulted in Ricardo Bautista's death. The fines, which totaled $7,000, indicate Performance Builders failed to lock the scaffold in place with safety pins.

Since the accident, OSHA has admitted the fines should have been higher and agreed to change multiple policies as a result of a FOX5 investigation. Performance Builders has refused to pay $5,600 worth of fines for the same problem at a different job site less than a month after Bautista's death. Performance Builders is also facing $44,000 worth of fines for "willful" violations because of an unsafe scaffold at a third job site, Pinecrest Academy Inspirada.

"I think one of the things that you've brought out through your investigation is that the company's own employees have been complaining," attorney Gabe Martinez said. "The fines from OSHA are kind of like a slap on the wrist, but, when it really doesn't hurt, what's the motivation to really make change?"

Askeroth and Martinez state that the owner of the company, Randy Sorensen, should have to pay more than just worker's compensation because he willfully ignored safety hazards on his job site.

In the days leading up to the scaffold collapse, OSHA investigators wrote Sorensen was on site but ignored at least one of the violations that led to Bautista’s death.

“(Sorensen) could have identified the cut brace that was on ground level and in plain view,” read the report.

Attorneys said they were disgusted by the way Sorensen has treated Ricardo Bautista's surviving family.

"Someone from the company came to my client's house a day or two after the accident with an envelope of cash," Askeroth said. "Approximately $250."

Jacquelyne Bautista has always stated her goal is not money. She said her main priority is changing the way Performance Builders does business. The company is still being hired at job sites across the valley.

"I would like to see (Sorensen) in jail," she said. "It's hard. Every time that I see the news I just go outside and cry."

The case is not expected to go to trial for at least two years. Jacquelyne Bautista was originally represented by a different law firm prior to the opening of this lawsuit.

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