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updated: 2/13/2014 5:06 PM

Widow files suit in Palatine trash compactor death

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The widow of a legally blind Palatine man killed last year after he fell into his condominium building's trash compactor while searching for a lost cellphone filed suit this week against the building's management and homeowner's association, alleging their negligence is to blame for his death.

The suit, filed in Cook County circuit court, seeks unspecified damages for Donna Mirro, whose 56-year-old husband, Roger Mirro, died in the July 30 accident on the 200 block of South Clubhouse Drive.

The suit claims defendants Hillcrest Property Management Inc. and Willow Creek Association No. 6 failed to take precautions necessary to prevent a fatal accident involving the trash compactor.

"He never should have been given unsupervised access to this death trap," Mirro attorney Craig Brown of Meyers & Flowers said Thursday. "And if you are going to give someone unsupervised access, then you certainly have a responsibility to warn him of the hidden dangers that could lead to catastrophic consequences."

Hillcrest referred questions to an attorney, who was not available for comment Thursday.

According to the suit, Roger Mirro lost his cellphone July 30 and believed he may have mistakenly dropped it down a trash chute with a bag of garbage.

The suit states he was given a key to the building's locked trash room by a member of the association board, but not warned of the "extreme danger" he would face if he accessed the Dumpster and triggered the attached compactor. There were no warning signs posted on the machine or outside the Dumpster room, the suit states.

According to the suit, Mirro climbed a ladder that had been positioned up against the compactor to peer inside for his phone when he lost his balance and fell inside the machine. That triggered the compactor, and without an emergency shut off inside the machine or a way for Mirro to climb out, he was crushed to death.

Brown said it is "a common misperception" that Mirro is to blame for his death because he fell into the compactor. He said there was no way for the Palatine man to know the compactor would turn on automatically under the circumstances.

"This is not just an isolated event," Brown added. "Unfortunately, these machines, when accessed by people who are untrained and unsupervised, are causing these types of tragedies all over the country."

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