BOISE — Idaho Supreme Court justices heard arguments Friday on an appeal filed by a family who in 2016 lost their loved one to a work accident at Crookham Company in Caldwell.
On Jan. 20, 2016, Francisca R. Gomez, of Parma, 63, died after her hair was caught in an assembly line, scalping her and causing asphyxiation. Gomez was an employee at the seed company and was at a picking table machine when the accident occurred.
In July 2016, the family filed a lawsuit against the Crookham Company for Gomez’s death in the 3rd District Court, claiming negligence, failure to warn of the potential dangers of the picking table and wrongful death. The family asked for damages in excess of $10,000, among other demands.
The district dismissed all of the family’s claims in October 2017. The family appealed that decision, and in December, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld the 3rd District Court’s ruling.
Kevin Dinius with Dinius & Associates in Nampa, who represents the Gomez family in the matter, filed a petition for a rehearing to determine whether Crookham Company did commit an “unprovoked physical aggression” against Gomez “by consciously disregarding knowledge that her injury would occur.”
The Idaho Supreme Court heard those arguments Friday in Boise.
“We have never alleged or offered any evidence that Crookham intended to harm (Gomez),” Dinius said. However, he claimed the company should have had knowledge of the safety concern, citing a safety plan was already in place at the company.
He requested the court reverse the district court’s judgement and remand the case for further proceedings, and asked for a jury trial to determine if the company had knowledge or conscious disregard in the matter. He also asked the court to clarify what “consciously disregard” means, something Justice John Stegner said Friday they have not endorsed or defined elsewhere.
An attorney from Elam & Burke in Boise representing Crookham Company, did not believe it was necessary to define, analyze and apply “consciously disregard” to remedy the appeal.
The matter of whether or not the accident was an “unprovoked physical aggression” will be considered, too.
“At some point, with the knowledge that everyone has in America today, it almost has to be aggression to order people to do these things,” Chief Justice Roger Burdick said Friday.
The justices recessed on the matter and will consider the appeal and make a decision, which will come in the coming months.