Trial for 2 companies charged in construction site death ‘dragging on’: judge

The trial for two companies facing liability charges in the workplace death of Eric Ndayishimiye in July 2016 likely won't wrap until April 2020. Facebook

The trial for two companies facing liability charges in the workplace death of a construction worker in Saskatoon likely won’t wrap until April 2020.

On July 21, 2016, Eric Ndayishimiye was killed during the construction of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital.

READ MORE: Saskatoon company fined after worker seriously injured in workplace incident

He was working on the ground floor of the site and died after a metal table cart fell on him.

Eric Ndayishimiye was killed after a metal table cart fell on him. Court exhibit

The companies – Banff Constructors Ltd. and Pilosio Canada Inc. – are facing charges under the occupational health and safety (OHS) and Saskatchewan Employment Acts.

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They stem from improper training and safety of equipment.

Banff Constructors – a subcontractor to prime contractor Graham Construction – employed the 21-year-old.

Pilosio supplied the piece of equipment to Graham for construction of the children’s hospital.

READ MORE: Trial underway into workplace death of 21-year-old man in Saskatoon

The trial got underway on August 12 and was initially supposed to last three weeks, but that is no longer the case.

It’s now scheduled to resume on Oct. 1, in order for Crown prosecutor Buffy Rodgers to assess an expert report provided during the trial by Banff Constructors’ lawyer David Myrol.

Proceedings are then slated to continue Dec. 18-19, when the Crown hopes to close its case.

That’s also when Judge Brent Klause could make a decision on an application filed by Pilosio’s lawyer, Jonathan Frustaglio, for separate hearings.

“We have to get this done,” Klause told court Thursday. “This has been dragging on too long.”

Rodgers told Global News they want matters to go ahead as quickly as possible.

“This has been very stressful and difficult for the family of Eric Ndayishimiye,” Rodgers said.

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“I know that [Eric’s father] is wanting this to move along so he can have some closure with respect to this aspect.”

Klause also read his decision on the voir dire proposed by the Crown regarding the admissibility of out-of-court statements given by a key witness – ruling in the Crown’s favour.

Gerard McLaren was the only witness on scene when the incident occurred, the judge read in his decision.

Court previously heard McLaren is currently living in Ireland and not cooperating with prosecutors.

READ MORE: Warman, Sask. company fined in Saskatoon workplace incident

In 2016 he was interviewed twice by OHS investigators right after the incident, then six weeks later.

The subsequent interview outlined McLaren operated the table cart that fell on and killed Ndayishimiye, and the judge deemed that consistent with the earlier statement.

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Klause noted in his decision, McLaren’s account is “essential to complete the narrative” and “doesn’t incriminate or exonerate any other party.”

He told court it’s “unlikely he would falsify his statement” as he “only blames himself.”

Klause accepted the statements even though they were not under oath and not open to cross-examination – a point the defence criticized Wednesday – but the judge said: “nothing would change as a result of cross-examination.”

He added McLaren’s statements were corroborated by several other people who were in close proximity at the time of the structure collapse – giving him “enhanced credibility and reliability.”

These witnesses were called to testify during the course of the trial and “subject to intense cross-examination by two experienced defence counsel.”

At this point, the trial is scheduled to conclude on April 3, 2020.

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