MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — The family of a young Mitchell woman, who died on the job at a bull stud facility, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Custom Genetic Solutions. 20-year-old Molly Schladweiler’s death and OSHA’s findings that the company exposed workers to hazardous chemicals and toxic substances were the focus of our KELOLAND News investigation in June of 2020.
Molly Schladweiler died of Hypothermia due to liquid nitrogen exposure on November 1, 2019.
In a civil lawsuit, Molly’s family alleges that CGS put profits over employees by not installing adequate ventilation in its facility, which resulted in her death. They spoke to KELOLAND Investigates about it in 2020.
“The ventilation–them not having any ventilation and why she was there by herself is just… I don’t see an excuse for it. I don’t see how you can justify that,” Mitch Schladweiler, Molly’s brother said on June 29, 2020.
Molly’s job was to package and ship bull semen in liquid nitrogen and she was filling the nitrogen tanks when she died.
In the lawsuit, the family alleges that CGS intentionally refused to install proper ventilation systems, despite getting quotes from local contractors to put them in and that CBS knew without proper ventilation someone would get hurt or die.
In its reply to the Schladweiler’s lawsuit, CGS says that the OSHA citations, which it is still contesting, are “akin to negligence or reckless conduct,’ and that there are “no allegations of intentional conduct” on the part of the company.
CGS denies that it received ventilation system quotes from local contractors but chose to forego its installation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Custom Genetic Solutions $122,602 for two willful and three serious violations. OSHA says the company failed to implement safety measures, such as oxygen monitoring or ventilation to ensure that the rapidly expanding liquid nitrogen did not displace the oxygen in the room. In addition, the company failed to train employees on the hazards of working with nitrogen gas, and on how to detect the accumulation and release of the gas.
The Schladweilers want to hold the CGS accountable.
“They need to fix their problems. If this happens to somebody else, it will just be all over again for somebody else,” Mitch said.
The company does not agree with Osha’s findings and has refused to pay the fines and the case has remained open for nearly two years. KELOLAND Investigates spoke with someone with OSHA who said it will be going before an administrative judge.