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Lawsuit seeks $50 million in damages in cesspool worker’s death

Emergency responders work to free a man from

Emergency responders work to free a man from a hole that collapsed outside a Huntington home on May 24, 2017. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Credit: James Carbone

The family of a worker killed in a May 2017 cesspool accident has filed a wrongful-death suit, seeking $50 million in damages.

The suit, filed Friday in Suffolk County Supreme Court, claims negligence by the worker’s employer, its contractors, the Town of Huntington’s highway department and the owner of the home where the accident took place.

Edward Sinnott, 59, of Huntington, was killed when the edge of a cesspool pit he was installing in Huntington collapsed, knocking him into the hole and suffocating him under a large mound of earth. Sinnott, who worked for Don Antorino Sewer & Drain, was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to police at the time, the company was hired by a general contractor, Antorino & Sons, which is also named in the suit.

Susan Karten, an attorney representing Sinnott’s family, said the family was devastated and remained distressed by the circumstances of Sinnott’s death, even after an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Suffolk County police.

OSHA fined both companies for “serious” safety violations in the incident, including not providing adequate protective systems for employees engaging in cesspool installation, according to its website. Don Antorino Sewer & Drain’s violation is being contested, according to OSHA records.

Don Antorino Sewer & Drain didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A woman who answered the phone at Antorino & Sons denied that the company had been sued and declined comment.

The suit claims that Sinnott and other workers at the scene were not asked to wear harnesses or use safety lines while working on the cesspool, and they were not provided with hard hats. The equipment used was also too large for the project and the hole was improperly supported and located, the suit says.

The suit also claims the Town of Huntington and the homeowner Dane Kouttron — a construction superintendent with experience in safety and oversight, according to the complaint — were aware of “repeated and chronic” flooding, water drainage and other problems that created “hazardous” conditions, such as unstable ground. But they failed to address the issues, the suit said.

Kouttron declined to comment, saying “we don’t know anything about it.”

A.J. Carter, a spokesman for the Town of Huntington, said the town does not comment on pending lawsuits.

Sinnott’s family is also calling for an investigation by the county district attorney’s office. Karten said the family believes that other workers may be at risk, citing the death of another Long Island man during the installation of a cesspool in Shoreham in November.

In a letter to Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini’s office, Karten said Sinnott’s death “appears to have been a clearly avoidable occurrence” and requested that his office “look into the circumstances of both incidents so close in time.”

Sini’s office declined to comment.

With Ellen Yan

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