After Appeal, Three Companies Involved in the Wind Farm Death of Chehalis Man Will Pay Out Full $549,874

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After settling an appeal in July with a state appeals board, the three companies found to have violated worksite safety laws that led to the death of a worker at the Skookumchuck Wind Farm will pay out the full $549,874 originally levied against them last year.

A Washington state Department of Labor and Industries spokesperson confirmed the information to The Chronicle this week after manslaughter charges were levied against five site workers earlier this week in Lewis County Superior Court.

Two of the workers are facing first-degree manslaughter charges, with the prosecutor’s office alleging they “did recklessly cause the death” of Jonathan Stringer, 24, of Chehalis, after an unreinforced trench collapsed on him.

RES System 3 LLC, parent company RES Americas Construction Inc. and contracted medical service company GEMS were the three companies fined following Labor and Industries’ investigation into the incident.

Labor and Industries spokesperson Dina Lorraine said the settlement includes “a substantial investment in worker safety in Washington.”

Nearly $470,000 of the total payout will be invested into “worker or industrial safety-related activities, programs or equipment in the state of Washington.”

The state will have until July 7 next year to identify the specific investments of those funds, Lorraine said. Possible safety investments could include trenching safety training or equipment, or search and rescue equipment for local governments and first responders.

The rest of the roughly $80,500 will be placed in Labor and Industries’ workers compensation supplemental pension fund, which helps injured workers and families of those who have died on the job. 

Stringer’s family settled a wrongful death claim for $12 million in February after filing suit in King County Superior Court.

The settlement, according to probate case documents filed in the court, is believed to be “one of the largest payments for the wrongful death of a single individual in Washington state history, and may be tied for the largest such settlement.” It’s also perhaps the final resolution in a nearly year-long effort to garner justice for the worker who died a preventable death.

The estate’s beneficiaries include Stringer’s 3-year-old daughter. He is also survived by his fiancée, Ashlee Thompson, who while not a beneficiary may be subject to a portion of the settlement by way of their “committed intimate relationship” status.

Stringer’s estate originally filed suit against RES-America, RES-America Construction, and Weyerhaeuser back in May 2020 just a few months after his death.

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