A few days after the Ministry of Labour charged two companies in the deaths of four migrant workers in a workplace accident, The Globe and Mail has learned that the sole survivor is suing the companies involved and the Ontario Ministry of Labour for $16.3-million in damages.
"We are suing them because we think they have a duty that they didn't exercise properly," said William Friedman, Dilshod Marupov's lawyer.
Mr. Marupov, 22, was one of five migrant workers who fell 13 storeys on Christmas Eve when the scaffolding they were standing on to repair balconies on a Toronto apartment building snapped in half. Four of the men were killed, but Mr. Marupov survived, possibly because he hung onto the broken scaffolding for a few moments before he, too, fell. Both his legs were crushed, his spine was broken, and he was in hospital for several months.
Mr. Marupov is from Samarkand, Uzbekistan. He had been in Canada for only a few months at the time of his accident.
Although he has been released from hospital, Mr. Marupov said on Monday that pain in his head, back and legs makes life a daily battle, and that he can barely walk.
"Every day I sleep in bed," he said after a deep breath. "It's too much.
"Pain is my life."
On Friday, the Ministry of Labour laid 61 charges against Metron Construction Corporation of Toronto and Swing N Scaff Inc. of Ottawa under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The charges include failure to ensure workers used proper devices to prevent them from falling, failure to ensure the platform was not overloaded, and failure to acquire information with respect to maximum loads and carrying capacity of the platform.
Of the 61 charges, 30 were against Metron Construction Corporation as constructor and employer, 16 were against an individual director of Metron Construction Corporation, and eight were laid against an individual supervisor. In addition, four charges were laid against Swing N Scaff, supplier of the suspended platform, and three charges were laid against an individual director of the company.
If convicted, the maximum penalties for the corporations are $500,000 per conviction. For individuals, the maximum penalties are $25,000 per conviction and/or up to a year in prison.
The owner of Swing N Scaff declined to comment. Metron Construction did not respond to a request for a comment.
Mr. Marupov's lawyer, Mr. Friedman, said the lawsuit is on behalf of Mr. Marupov and the estate of Fayzullo Fazilov, one of the men who died. The claim for Mr. Fazilov is about $14-million, while Mr. Marupov is seeking $16.3-million in damages.
Mr. Friedman filed a statement of claim on May 19, and says he's waiting for all of the defence statements to come in before proceeding further. He said the Ministry of Labour was responsible for monitoring the site and making sure the same contractors that they are charging were carrying out their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act properly.
When asked about the civil lawsuit, Matt Blajer, Ministry of Labour spokesman, said the ministry could not comment.
Constable Tony Vella of the Toronto Police Service confirmed that a criminal investigation is also under way.
The other men who were killed in the accident were Aleksey Blumberg, Alexander Bondorev, and Vladimir Korostin.
Bakhtier Shakhnazarov, 47, a friend of Mr. Marupov, said the injured man used to say he was lucky to be alive, but now that he's out of the hospital and crippled by pain, he's sometimes very angry about what happened. Mr. Shakhnazarov is part of the Uzbek community in Toronto and met Mr. Marupov in the hospital after he heard that a young man from the same country was badly injured and alone.
Mr. Marupov says the hardest part of his ordeal has been going through it alone. His family has been unable to visit because of visa restrictions. He lives with friends, he said, but wants his parents.
"Please. Please help me," he said, his voice cracking. "I'm in so much pain."