US Rembrandt Enterprises settles collapsed system lawsuit

A case concerning the death of Humberto Jesus Lopez, who was buried by a collapsed caging system in February 2020, was settled for an undisclosed amount.

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A lawsuit concerning the death of Humberto Jesus Lopez, a subcontractor employee working for Rembrandt Enterprises, who was buried by a collapsed caging system in one of Rembrandt’s Iowa-based barns in February 2020, was settled in July 2023.

According to news outlet Storm Lake Times Pilot, the Estate of Humberto Jesus Lopez and Rembrandt compromised and settled the estate’s lawsuit against Rembrandt.

The estate’s attorney, Josh Hopkins, declined to indicate the settling amount, but he confirmed the estate is no longer maintaining a claim against Rembrandt for Lopez’s death.

Lopez’s estate sued Rembrandt in February 2022 claiming that the producer failed to maintain a Tecno Poultry Equipment caging system that collapsed on top of Lopez, resulting in death. The estate alleged the equipment was not routinely inspected and the manure conveyor belts in the system were inoperable for approximately six months.

Despite Rembrandt having initially lost $21 million as a result of the collapse, it denied the claims from Lopez’s estate and alleged that “other entities” were at fault.

Rembrandt’s case against Tecno Poultry Equipment ongoing

In February 2021, Rembrandt took the first steps in suing equipment manufacturer Tecno Poultry Equipment, and claimed the manufacturer failed to install fasteners and brackets, meant to support the system’s frame, when it was installed in 2007.

According to Rembrandt’s attorney, a part of the equipment called the rail system caused the caging system to be unstable because of inconsistent weight distribution and the movement of the feeder trolley.

According to a filing from Rembrandt’s attorneys July 11, 2023, there is evidence showing Tecno never gave instructions or documents concerning how to check the system. Rembrandt also argued that Tecno failed to supervise the subcontractor who installed the caging system.

Rembrandt has requested a summary judgment against Tecno for breach of duty and negligent supervision. As of July 27th, 2023, Tecno has not responded to Rembrandt’s claims. A trial is set for Feb. 5, 2024, in Sioux City, Iowa.

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