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Family of Fayette doctor crushed by paper bale files suit

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Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

The wife and children of a former Fayette County physician who died when he was crushed by a 1,100-pound bale of recycling paper have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a Connellsville Township couple.

Mark Fremd, 56, died Dec. 19, 2011, at Allen Enterprises & Recycling on Bellview Road in Bullskin.

Fremd was crushed when the bale of paper fell on him as he walked along a dirt ramp at the facility, according to a report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In the civil lawsuit, Fremd's survivors name as defendants the recycling center's owners, Rodney F. Allen and Linda Carlton of Connellsville Township. Contacted by phone at the center on Monday, Carlton declined to comment.

At the time of the fatal accident, another employee, Michael Crosby of Bullskin, said Fremd was helping to move large paper bales onto a skid loader when he was struck.

In the lawsuit, Greensburg attorney Joseph Massaro Jr. claims the business was negligent because of the manner in which it stored bales of paper for recycling.

“Defendant stacked or allowed to be stacked uneven bales of recycled paper three to four bales high on top of one another, creating a hazard where the incident occurred,” Massaro wrote in the suit. “Defendant allowed the improperly stacked bales to remain in a dangerous and improperly stacked position for more than two weeks, causing them to settle and become more unstable.”

The suit alleges that a dirt ramp used to access the 1,100-pound bales with a skid loader was improperly maintained and had 2-foot-deep ruts, “which created an uneven and unstable base for the storage of the baled paper.”

In its report, OSHA found that unevenly stacked bales of paper were stored outdoors, three to four bales high, on an uneven dirt base for more than two weeks.

One bale, which had become wet and top-heavy, fell on Fremd as he walked on the ramp, according to OSHA's report.

OSHA fined Allen Enterprises $10,800 and issued it four citations, three of which were listed as serious, according to spokeswoman Joanna Hawkins of the Department of Labor's Philadelphia office.

Fremd was a Connellsville physician whose license was suspended because he was convicted of trading prescription medications for sexual favors.

In 2003, a jury found Fremd guilty of trading prescription medications for sex and bilking his insurance carrier out of thousands of dollars. He was sentenced to 18 to 36 months in state prison.

The accident that killed Fremd was similar to one that occurred on May 19, 1997, at the same center.

Christopher T. Floyd, 30, of Connellsville was crushed when a 5-foot-high stack of cardboard fell on him.

At that time, state police said Floyd, who was employed as a skid loader operator with B&R Recycling, was standing beside five bales of packaged recycled cardboard stacked atop one another.

Police said the bales, estimated to weigh as much as 1,000 pounds each, fell onto the dock where Floyd was standing, pinning him to the concrete.

After an investigation by OSHA, B&R was cited for seven violations, including failure to store materials properly and failure to properly train forklift operators. B&R was assessed penalties totaling $4,800.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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