Company Drops Appeal In Case Over Fatal 2016 Trench Collapse

BOISE, ID — A construction company has dropped its appeal of federal workplace safety officials' determination that it was negligent in a 2016 trench collapse in Boise that killed two workers and injured a third.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Hard Rock Construction's hands-off approach to worker safety and rush to finish the job contributed to the collapse, the Idaho Statesman reported Thursday.

Inspectors identified safety issues at the construction site hours before the trench came down.

OSHA had proposed fining the construction company about $77,000 for failing to protect its employees, but it appealed. Hard Rock later dropped its appeal in March for unknown reasons.

The company's lawyer did not respond to a message from the newspaper seeking comment this week.

It's unknown whether the U.S. attorney's office will pursue criminal charges. Federal records show prosecutors had considered it in the past.

The family of Bert Smith Jr., one of the employees killed in the collapse, is suing the city of Boise, state agencies, the construction company and French Homes, the company that hired Hard Rock to dig the trenches as part of a residential construction project.

The family's lawsuit blames government agencies for giving out licenses and permits to the company for the project, and private parties for putting Smith at risk.

The defendants have all responded in court, denying the claims or saying they weren't filed correctly.

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