The administrator of a deceased man's estate is blaming Illinois-American Water for the man's suffocation in a lawsuit she filed in Madison County Circuit Court.

Carolyn Estes, administrator of the estate of Jerry R. Estes, filed a lawsuit July 16 against Illinois-American Water.

As part of his work for Forest Homes Maple Park Public Water District, Jerry R. Estes was required to enter a vault in Cottage Hills that Illinois-American Water maintained to shut off the water company's meters on Aug. 4, Carolyn Estes claims.

While in the vault, Jerry R. Estes suffocated due to an oxygen vitiated atmosphere, according to the complaint.

Because of Jerry R. Estes's death, his next-of-kin have lost his society, love, affection, care, attention, companionship, comfort, guidance and financial support and have suffered grief and sorrow, the suit states.

In addition, Carolyn Estes says she has incurred medical and funeral expenses.

Carolyn Estes is blaming Illinois-American Water for failing to make a reasonable inspection of its vault, for failing to provide ventilation in the vault, for failing to warn vault users of the oxygen vitiated atmosphere, for failing to establish a confined space entry program and for failing to provide a safe place to work.

In the three-count complaint, Carolyn Estes is seeking a judgment of more than $150,000, plus costs.

Gregory A. Becker and Matthew R. Chapman of Becker, Schroader and Chapman in Granite City will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-734.

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