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A Literal Death By Chocolate Has Lawyers Hungry For More Details

The cocoa processing center where a worker died after falling into a large vat of melting chocolate was operating illegally. A bitter ending, says NYC personal injury lawyer David Perecman

New York, New York – July 13, 2009 – Police were called to a New Jersey chocolate processing plant on Wednesday, July 8 after temporary worker Vincent Smith II died after falling into a vat of hot chocolate. He was 29-years old.

“It’s incredible that such an unusual accident would occur again,” said New York personal injury lawyer David Perecman, referring to an NYC personal injury accident that occurred in 2002 when a 19-year-old fell into a vat of mixing chocolate under similar circumstances.

Much to the interest of personal injury lawyers in the neighboring state of New York, officials say that the Cocoa Services Inc. plant. was operating illegally when Smith fell. The management company that operates the factory was operating without proper permits or workplace safety. Company spokesman Kevin Feeley said it was a misunderstanding and that local officials knew the company was operating in the former Campbell Soup plant.

Smith was loading chunks of raw chocolate into the vat for melting when he slipped and fell into the tank from a nine-foot high platform. He was killed by a fatal blow to the head, delivered by the vat’s agitator, a paddle-like mechanism used for stirring the chocolate.

Co-workers shut off the valve and tried to reach him, but failed.

He had been in the melting pot, which was at a temperature of about 120 degrees, for about ten minutes by the time emergency crews managed to pull him out.

The chocolate in the vat, which was 8 feet deep and 6 feet wide, was being made for Hershey’s when the accident occurred.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the workplace death. The plant is being monitored by the Food and Drug Administration to make sure that the chocolate that came into contact with the victim does not get shipped.

“One of the things you learn quickly as a personal injury lawyer is that there is an incredible array of dangerous jobs that expose workers to harm every day,” said Perecman, whose personal injury law firm is located in NYC.

About David Perecman and The Perecman Firm, PLLC:

For the past 25 years, the New York personal injury lawyers, construction accident, auto accident and medical malpractice lawyers at The Perecman Firm, PLLC have championed all types of cases for personal injury. David Perecman, founder of the Firm, is the past Secretary of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA) and a chair of its Labor Law Committee. Mr. Perecman’s achievements have brought him recognition as an Honoree in the National Law Journal’s Hall of Fame, in New York Magazine’s “The Best Lawyers in America” and The New York Times Magazine “New York Super Lawyers, Metro Edition”.

The Firm has recovered millions of dollars for its clients. Among the more recent victories, Mr. Perecman won a $15 million verdict* for a construction accident, a $5.35 million dollar verdict** for an automobile accident, and a $40 million dollar structured settlement for medical malpractice.

*later settled while on appeal for $7.940 million
** later settled for $3.5 million
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