Trench Collapse Victim Wins $19 Million Jury Verdict

Me Photo Headshot
Updated Oct 11, 2023
excavator digging trench
An Iowa worker has been awarded $19 million by a jury following his injuries from a trench collapse.
Getty Images

A construction worker in Iowa won a $19 million jury verdict in his lawsuit against D.R. Horton following injuries he suffered in a trench collapse.

Timothy Kono was in a 10- to 11-foot-deep trench April 9, 2019, in Polk City when the collapse occurred. He was buried and later rescued. He was working for Royal Plumbing LLC of Prairie City, a subcontractor on a D.R. Horton housing development.

Kono suffered injuries to his hips, legs, knees, ankles and low back, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, according to court records.

Royal Plumbing, which paid Kono’s worker’s compensation claim for medical treatment, was cited by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration for providing inadequate protection to employees from loose rock or soil that could fall into an excavation. The company was fined $7,467.

In Kono’s suit against D.R. Horton, he accused the company of failing to provide a trench box to prevent cave-in, according to KCCI news station.

The jury awarded Kono $3 million in damages and awarded $16.18 million in punitive damages, the station reports. Kono, however, won’t get the entire amount. Under Iowa law, 75% of the $16.18 million in punitive damages will go to a “civil reparations trust fund.” The fund is administered by the State Court Administrator and used for indigent civil litigation programs or insurance assistance programs.

osha trench safety graphicOSHA