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CO Man Buried Alive Under Tons of Pinto Beans

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on March 21, 2012 6:48 AM

A Colorado man suffocated after being buried alive under "several tons" of pinto beans, in a deadly workplace incident that could lead to a wrongful-death lawsuit.

Raymond Segura Jr., 56, of Morgan County, Colo., was crushed when a huge pile of pinto beans collapsed at a warehouse in northeastern Colorado, The Denver Post reports.

Segura was buried under a pile of beans 15 to 20 feet high. It took more than 50 rescuers about an hour to dig Segura's body out from the pile, according to the Post.

"The exact cause of how Mr. Segura ended up being trapped is still under investigation," the sheriff's office said. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and safety inspectors from the Kelly Bean Co. where the incident happened March 15, are involved in the investigation, Denver's KDVR-TV reports.

Once the investigation concludes, Kelly Bean Co. could find itself in a legal battle with Segura's surviving relatives. They could file a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging the company's negligence led to Segura being buried alive under the pinto beans.

To prove negligence, Segura's relatives may be able to point to human error in handling the beans, or perhaps safety measures that weren't followed or implemented.

Segura's relatives could also try to assert res ipsa loquitur -- a legal argument that claims an accident of this type (in this case, the collapse of a huge pile of beans) doesn't usually occur unless someone acted negligently. If neither the victim nor a third party caused the accident, a jury can infer that a defendant's negligence (in this case, the bean company) caused the injury.

Raymond Segura Jr. had worked at the warehouse for more than a dozen years before he was buried alive under a pile of pinto beans, Reuters reports. He was a longtime resident of Morgan County.

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