5 Firms Sued by Parents in Welder’s Death

Times Staff Writer

The parents of a 23-year-old Costa Mesa welder have filed a $3-million lawsuit against the Marriott Corp. and four construction companies, contending that the firms were negligent in failing to secure a 3,500-pound column of steel bars that fell at a Newport Beach construction site Sept. 16 and crushed their son to death.

Joe F. and Bonnie R. Hlista of Santa Ana contend that Marriott and the other companies “carelessly failed” to “supervise, plan and direct” the placement of the steel bars on the fourth floor of the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel’s new wing, which is under construction at Fashion Island.

Died Almost Instantly

Joey Hlista was welding steel reinforcing bars on the fourth floor when an adjacent steel column toppled on him. He died almost instantly of massive head and internal injuries.

“When the columns are rigged up, they’re supposed to be secured by four guy lines at 90-degree angles at a minimum,” said the parents’ lawyer, John C. Stein of San Jose. “Our investigation shows that only three guy lines were used, two at 95-degree angles and one at 170 degrees.”

The state Occupational Health and Safety Administration also is investigating to determine if safety violations existed at the job site. Cal-OSHA had received unrelated complaints before the accident about alleged unsafe conditions.


Besides the Marriott, the other defendants are general contractor Continental-Heller Corp., steel manufacturer and erector Marathon Steel Co., and subcontractors Recon Steel Placers and A-Lloyds Welding.