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$7 million lawsuit for farmworker strangled by safety vest

The family of a 51-year-old farmworker who was strangled by his safety vest after it got caught in some rotating machinery has filed a $7 million lawsuit against the machinery’s maker and seller.

Jose Carmen Olmedo Zaragoza died at about 10:40 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2015, as he was harvesting hazelnuts on Christensen Farms near Amity, just south of the Yamhill County line.

Olmedo stepped off a tractor and reached into a Dejong nut cart — it was collecting the hazelnuts — when his safety vest caught on a rotating auger inside the nut cart, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Olmedo was pulled in and asphyxiated.

The cart didn’t have a guard that would have prevented Olmedo from becoming entangled in the rotating auger, according to the suit. It also states that the cart could have been more safely designed with higher sides to lessen the likelihood that anyone could fall in.

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