Lawsuits filed over Botanical Garden walkway collapse

The widow of a construction worker and three injured workers have filed lawsuits against the Atlanta Botanical Garden and a number of companies over the elevated platform that collapsed at the garden complex in December 2008.

The lawsuits, filed this week in Fulton County State Court, accuse the garden and the construction companies of negligence and a failure to protect the workers when they were building the Canopy Walk, which is now open to the public. The companies did not properly construct and anchor the temporary scaffolding for the elevated walkway, the suit said.

One lawsuit was filed on behalf of the estate of Angel Chupin, the 56-year-old construction worker who died during the collapse. He is survived by his widow, Eucebia Lopez Carbajal, and his eleven children. The suit seeks to recover the full value of Chupin's life, the family's lawyer, Mike Moran, said Friday.

Three other suits were filed on behalf of two brothers, Ruben and Erasmo Alonzo, and Humberto Cardenas, all of whom suffered fractures and spinal injuries.

Their lawyer, Clark McGehee, said these Hispanic workers are cherished for their work on hard jobs but said "they tend to be forgotten when they're badly hurt."

All four men worked for a subcontractor that pours concrete foundations.

Danny Flanders, a spokesman for the Atlanta Botanical Garden, said the garden has placed a commemorative plaque in honor of the workers on site at a memorial garden.

"We certainly have sympathy for the families of those workers," Flanders said. "And we're sure these families want answers just like we all do."

Phil Torchio, president of Williams Erection Co., a defendant in the case, said he was aware of the lawsuits. "Everybody here feels terrible about everyone who was injured and certainly Mr. Chupin who was killed," he said, declining further comment.