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Intent to sue filed in New London trash compactor death

By Colin A. Young

Publication: theday.com

Published March 06. 2014 4:00PM   Updated March 06. 2014 4:16PM

New London — Attorneys representing the estate of Floyd G. Smeeton, the man who died Jan. 30 after apparently falling into the trash compactor at the city transfer station, this week notified the city that the estate intends to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

In the notice, which was filed with City Clerk Nathan Caron’s office Monday afternoon, the attorneys list the following possible defendants: the City of New London, the Department of Public Works, DPW Director Tim Hanser and William Watkins, DPW’s manager of solid waste and recycling.

The notice informs the city that the Smeeton estate plans to file suit on the basis that Smeeton, 59, of Bordell Place, died an “untimely and accidental death ... as a result of the negligence and/or recklessness” of the city and that the city failed “to maintain premises in a reasonably safe condition for citizens.”

The city’s negligence or recklessness, the notice said, includes the failure to properly monitor the dumping area, failure to provide proper barricading of the dumping area, failure to follow safety protocols and failure to provide an emergency shut-off switch.

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio declined to comment on any pending or threatened litigation but said the incident is still under investigation by the city’s insurance provider.

The Smeeton estate is represented by Synodi & Videll LLC of Waterford and Dean Golembeski of Holth, Kollman & Golembeski of New London. Attorney Gordon Videll declined to comment on the case other than to say the incident was “a horrible tragedy for Floyd and his family.”

The attorneys also filed a demand for preservation of evidence, including any documents or electronically stored information related to Smeeton’s death and the operations of the Public Works Department.

The police department’s investigation into Smeeton’s death and the circumstances surrounding it remains open, the department said, and the incident report has not been released to the public. The Day has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain that report and any other information related to the Jan. 30 incident.

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