Vineyard Manager Sentenced to Jail in Worker Tractor Death

January 22, 2013

A Sonoma County, Calif., vineyard manager has been sentenced to 30 days in jail for removing a safety device in a tractor that overturned and killed a farmworker.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch said Thursday that 61-year-old James Poole of the Lodi-based Vino Farms Inc. has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor violation of the Labor Code that prohibits removal of a manufacturer’s safety device.

Poole was also ordered to do 80 hours of community service.

Prosecutors said the farmworker, 37-year-old Jose Antonio Ambriz-Luquin, tried to get out of the tractor but his clothing got caught in 2011. Because the tractor’s “kill switch” had been removed, the tractor ran him over instead of shutting down.

As part of a court settlement, Vino Farms will also pay $100,000 to Ambriz-Luquin’s family, $75,000 to the State of California and $25,000 to Ag Safe, a worker safety organization.

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