Trial begins in recycling center suit against Kern County

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) The civil case that will determine the future of a recycling center where two brothers were killed in an October 2011 industrial accident entered the trial phase on Thursday.

Community Recycling & Resource Recovery Inc., based near Lamont, is accusing the Kern County Board of Supervisors of breaking the law when it unanimously ordered the company shut down its operations one month after the deaths.

Lawyers for Community Recycling said the county did not allow the company enough of an opportunity to argue its case to stay open before the county ordered the facility's closure.

However, county Supervisor Leticia Perez said the company was given its due process.

"From my perspective, and from all of the evidence that has been presented today, it is clear the due process was afforded and the decision by the Board of Supervisors should stand," Perez said.

Community Recycling was fined nearly $167,000 by Cal/OSHA in 2012, after an investigation uncovered 16 citations.

Armando Ramirez, 16, died on Oct. 12, 2011, while cleaning a storm drain at the facility when he inhaled toxic gases.

His 22-year-old brother, Heladio, went to help his brother but also fell ill to the fumes. He was declared brain dead and died just days after the incident when he was taken off life support.

Perez added that she thinks a ruling could come down as soon as Friday.