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Judge: Trench death lawsuit can move forward

UPDATE 1 p.m. Jan. 23:

The wrongful death lawsuit of a man who died in a Washington Twp. trench during construction of a home has been reactivated.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Erik Blaine ruled Monday that the case involving the death of James Rogers can go forward without defendant Timothy Scott Dickey, who has filed for Chapter 7 in Dayton’s U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The attorney for Tara Brown, Craig Matthews, said Monday that Dickey’s portion of the lawsuit can be determined after his personal bankruptcy proceedings are over and that Dickey’s company, South Dayton Builders and Remodelers, Inc., has not declared bankruptcy even though it has shut down.

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The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the sister of a man “buried alive” when a Washington Twp. trench collapsed in June 2016 is on hold because one of the defendants has filed bankruptcy.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Erik Blaine dismissed the case involving the death of James B. Rogers, 33, of Winchester, because South Dayton Builders and Remodelers Inc. owner Timothy Scott Dickey filed for Chapter 7 in Dayton’s U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Rogers’ sister, Tara Brown, filed the suit in late November against the house’s developer, contractor and a subcontractor.

RELATED: Sister of man ‘buried alive’ files suit in Washington Twp. trench death

Blaine ruled that the suit can be reactivated when the bankruptcy case is complete.

“The family understands the legal process can move slowly but remains confident justice will be served,” said Brown’s attorney, Craig Matthews.

Rogers died June 15, 2016, after a 12-foot deep trench collapsed on him while working for KRW Plumbing of Jamestown, a company that had a trench collapse about a month earlier at another job site, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administrations (OSHA) records.

RELATED: Family of man who died in trench explores legal options

Emergency personnel worked for nearly seven hours to extricate Rogers’ body at 463 Claxton Glen near Marshall Road.

The named defendants are Dickey, KRW Plumbing and its owner Richard S. “Rick” Williams and real estate developer and investor Donald C. Wright.

Wright owned the lot and South Dayton Builders and Remodelers hired KRW Plumbing, according to the complaint.

RELATED: Report: Owner ‘did not tell truth’ about hole where worker died

Matthews already has filed a motion to reactivate the case but Blaine has not yet ruled on it.

In his bankruptcy filing, Dickey checked boxes indicating he had between 100 and 199 creditors, had assets from $100,001-$500,000 and liabilities from $500,001 to $1 million.

Specifically, Dickey wrote that he had $136,197 in assets, liabilities of $620,195 and a monthly income of $5,156.

RELATED: ‘It’s getting deep,’ man texted before death in trench

Messages seeking comment have been left with attorneys for KRW Plumbing and Don Wright.

KRW’s attorney denied the plaintiff’s substantive allegations in an answer filed in court.

Don Wright’s attorney denied the plaintiff’s substantive allegations in an answer and cross-claim, writing that Rogers’ death is “the direct and proximate result of the negligence and/or intervening and superseding acts and/or omissions of named or unnamed defendants and/or third parties over whom this answering Defendant had no direction or control.”

Wright’s attorney wrote that any liability found in Brown’s favor is solely that of the other named defendants.

RELATED: Body of worker trapped in trench found, removed

Dickey has no defense attorney listed in court dockets, but a message seeking comment was sent to his bankruptcy lawyer.

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