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Injury during bakery renovation leads to lawsuits against construction companies

Two local construction companies are the target of a lawsuit filed by a Milwaukee construction worker injured during the 2009 renovation of Joseph Campione Inc., an Oak Creek bakery.

Alexander Maldonado sued subcontractor Spancrete Industries Inc., Waukesha, and general contractor ESI Contractors Inc., Hartland, on April 5, for their failure to properly clear a worksite before installing cinder block girders on the interior of the bakery building.

According to the complaint, a Spancrete employee was attempting to pry a beam into place when a piece of the cinder block chipped off, fell 15 feet and hit Maldonado on the head and shoulder.

Maldonado was wearing a safety helmet at the time, according to his attorney, Mert Rotter, of Warshafsky, Rotter, Tarnoff & Bloch SC, Milwaukee. Maldonado sustained injuries to his head and shoulder which, Rotter said, have resulted in permanent disability.

“The contractors should have closed off the area before doing that work,” Rotter said. “Nobody was barred from working or walking in the area.”

Spancrete marketing director Kimberly Wacker did not immediately return a call for comment. ESI office manager Michelle Draghicchio declined to comment, beyond acknowledging that the company is defending the suit and Maldonado worked on the project.

The scope of the concluded project, according to ESI’s website, included a 119,762-square foot expansion of Campione’s bakery in Oak Creek and construction of dry storage rooms, first- and second-floor office areas and an oven bakery area.

The defendant’s attorney, Paul Pytlik of Hills Legal Group Ltd, Waukesha, declined to comment beyond the response he filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on May 21. That filing denied the allegations.

In the court response, Pytlik said Maldonado, who was hired as a welder on the job by subcontractor Brenner Corp., Milwaukee, was partially to blame for the accident and that the injuries he sustained were caused by the negligence of third parties not associated with the lawsuit.

Pytlik is seeking dismissal of the case.

But Rotter said the defendants should be held liable for the injuries sustained by Maldonado. Those include a head injury that Rotter said has resulted in constant headaches for Maldonado and partial hearing loss in one ear.

“This is a negligence claim,” he said. “Spancrete should have not been doing what they were doing at the time, and either they or the general contractor should have known that.”

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