A second lawsuit was filed Friday against the companies that own and manage Church’s Chicken in Livingston.
Three fast food employees were injured when the floor collapsed during their shift Aug. 1. Heavy machinery and the fryer fell on them and severely burned their bodies.
Thirty-five-year-old Hugolina Guerrero and 18-year-old Joselyn Gonzalez are suing for $150 million. Erica Acevedo, the other victim, filed a separate lawsuit seeking $50 million.
All three women are still in the hospital. Doctors had been performing skin grafts on Gonzalez after the hot oil burned 75 percent of her body.
Attorney Benny Agosto Jr. sat in front of pictures of his clients that showed the before, the after and the proof he said the management companies involved showed gross negligence.
“The hot boiling oil came upon the women and I can tell you in all the years of experience I have, I have never seen such horrific injuries,” said Agosto. “Total chaos broke out, screaming smoke smoldering.”
Some of the customers jumped over the counter and were able to pull out Acevedo and Gonzalez, but Hugolina was trapped and had to wait for firefighters.
“She will never be the same mother, person again. Her scars run from head to toe,” said Agosto.
Agosto is going after three companies, Triangle Capital properties, LLC, and Store Master Funding 8—those in charge of the building itself—and the local franchise owner, CT Restaurants L.P.
He said he has proof managers were told about the floor on several occasions over the years, including just weeks before the accident.
“There is a service person that gave warning to management, ‘there is a rotten floor. The beams are rotten and rusty. The floor is rusty with grease going through it and it needs to be repaired,’” said Agosto.
The job they took pride in ruined their lives, and now Agosto’s concern is for the dozens of restaurants these companies continue to run, he said.
“Not only failed these women that are working there. They have to be, as we say in the law, taught a lesson,” said Agosto.
Agosto said he’s not planning to sue Church’s Chicken corporation so that it does not disrupt his clients’ current healthcare.
We attempted to contact the Church’s Chicken franchise owner of the Livingston location but was unsuccessful.