The mother of a young worker who tragically died from heatstroke while working for a construction firm in San Antonio, Texas, has taken legal action against his employer, Your Content has learned.
Gabriel Infante, a 24-year-old employee of B Comm Constructors, passed away on June 23, 2022, while performing physically demanding work under the scorching sun.
This lawsuit follows the recent enactment of a controversial law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. The law, signed on June 14, prohibits local municipalities from implementing heat protection standards for construction workers. It effectively overturned previously established ordinances in Austin and Dallas that required 10-minute breaks every four hours. San Antonio was considering a similar ordinance before the state bill was passed.
According to the lawsuit, Infante displayed symptoms of heatstroke, including confusion, altered mental state, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. His colleague and childhood friend, Joshua Espinoza, attempted to cool him down by pouring cold water on him. However, a foreman insisted that Espinoza contact the police, attributing Infante’s behavior to drugs. The foreman also advocated for a drug test when emergency medical services arrived.
On the day of the incident, temperatures in San Antonio soared above 100°F (37.7°C), with humidity levels peaking at 75%, as stated in the lawsuit.
Infante tragically succumbed to severe heatstroke, with an internal temperature recorded at a staggering 109.8°F (43.2°C). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies a body temperature of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher as a primary symptom of heatstroke.
Velma Infante, Gabriel’s mother, expressed her distress over the lack of communication and condolences from the company’s owner regarding her son’s untimely death. In her words, “To this day, I have never, ever gotten a phone call from the owner of the company to offer his condolences for my son’s death. Or, an ‘I’m sorry,’ or nothing like that. I mean, of course, it doesn’t make a difference. But I mean, it’s the gesture.”
Since her son’s tragic passing, Mrs. Infante has experienced anxiety and panic when her children fail to promptly return phone calls. She shared her struggles, stating, “We have difficult days; I have difficult days. When I go out in public, I put on a different face because when I get home, it’s all there waiting for me. It just consumes me. I don’t sleep. I cry, I eat, and I eat junk food.”
The recent heatwaves in Texas have compounded Mrs. Infante’s pain as they evoke the memory of her son’s experience in the extreme heat. Additionally, Gabriel’s friends recently graduated from the University of Texas-San Antonio, which serves as a painful reminder of what Gabriel will never achieve.
The grief-stricken mother is now striving to establish a music scholarship in Gabriel’s name, as he had a deep passion for music and aspired to continue his education in the field. Gabriel played the saxophone since childhood and was known for his sense of humor and kindness.
Joshua Espinoza, Gabriel’s best friend and coworker, shared his thoughts on the situation, stating, “My friend Gabe is the epitome of why this bill is ridiculous. It’s important for us not to go backward, to learn from our mistakes. It’s blatant process over people. Greg Abbott doesn’t care about workers at all.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed a fine of $13,052 against B Comm Constructors for their failure to protect workers from heat-related hazards. The construction firm is contesting the penalty.
In her lawsuit, Mrs. Infante seeks $1 million in damages for her son’s tragic death. She highlights the absence of safeguards, protections, training programs, and heat-related illness prevention policies implemented by the employer at the time, according to The Guardian.
Despite multiple requests for comment, B Comm Constructors did not respond.