In 1992 Marta Espinosa came to the United States from Nicaragua with one goal in mind – she wanted a better life for her family and three children. With that in mind, she set out to do the best she could and work as hard as she could. Shortly thereafter, she was fortunate enough to meet her husband, Ramon, and the two have been inseparable ever since. They enjoyed spending time with their family, fishing, going to the beach and the outdoors.
In 1999, Marta was hired by, Van Teal, Inc., a company that manufactures lamps and accessories. She was very skilled and part of her tasks included applying heat to acrylics to give the lamps an aged or antique look.
Sadly, on November 20, 2002 while working with a blow torch that emitted heat from a combination of hydrogen and oxygen gases, an explosion occurred. The flames engulfed Marta’s clothes and body and she sustained burns to seventy-five percent (75%) of her body. She was immediately taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital Burn Unit where her family was told that she had sustained second and third degree burns to her face, neck, arms, torso, legs, and hands. Marta remained in intensive care for several months and required extensive surgery and painful skin graphs. Thereafter, she was placed on a painful regiment involving physical and occupational therapy.
Although Marta was able to obtain benefits through her worker’s compensation carrier, those benefits were limited and did not provide the financial security that Marta and her family needed. When Marta contacted Panter, Panter & Sampedro, P.A., David Sampedro investigated and soon discovered that her employer did not own the building where Marta worked as she was lead to believe. In addition, Mr. Sampedro suspected that an inadequate amount of ventilation in Marta’s work area allowed the gasses to accumulate and create the dangerous condition which resulted in the explosion.
With a team of experts from around the country, David Sampedro litigated this case and discovered many local, state, and federal fire codes which the owner of the building violated. Eventually, on January 5, 2005 a settlement was reached for Two Million Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($2,025,000.00) The settlement will result in the financial stability and security for Marta and her family which she sought when she first came to this country.