SpaceX Faces Negligence Lawsuit Over Injury That Left Worker in a Coma

SpaceX Faces Negligence Lawsuit Over Injury That Left Worker in a Coma

The wife of a SpaceX employee who was severely injured in a 2022 rocket engine test has filed a negligence lawsuit against the aerospace company, as first reported by Reuters. This case highlights ongoing safety concerns at SpaceX, with an earlier investigation revealing a pattern of workplace injuries and questionable safety practices.

On January 18, 2022, a Raptor V2 pressure engine test at SpaceX’s Hawthorne facility went horribly wrong, causing a fuel-controller assembly cover to detach and severely injure integration technician Francisco Cabada. A malfunctioning component, a fuel-controller assembly cover, detached and struck him on the head, resulting in a skull fracture and leaving him in a coma, a state he has tragically remained in for the past two years, according to Reuters.

Cabada, a 10-year veteran of the company, is a father of three of who lives in Los Angeles. His wife, Ydy Cabada, has now filed a lawsuit in a Los Angeles state court accusing SpaceX of negligence.

Workplace injuries at SpaceX are disturbingly common; a 2023 Reuters investigation uncovered several hundred workplace injuries, including one death, raising serious concerns about the company’s commitment to worker safety. SpaceX did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment on the lawsuit.

Inside sources reportedly told Reuters that SpaceX’s senior managers at the Hawthorne facility had been repeatedly warned about the dangers of rushing the engine’s development. These warnings highlighted concerns about insufficient staff training and inadequate testing of components, according to Reuters. In the case of the accident that injured Francisco Cabada, the faulty component reportedly had been identified as defective prior to the test but was not repaired. The Raptor V2 engine powers the company’s Starship, a revolutionary launch vehicle that is pivotal to the company’s future ambitions.

Related article: The Definitive Guide to SpaceX’s Starship Megarocket

Reuters’ 2023 investigation revealed a pattern of workplace incidents at SpaceX. Interviews with over a dozen current and former employees, coupled with a review of medical and worker compensation records, exposed a history of injuries among the workforce. These included more than 100 cases of cuts or lacerations, 29 instances of broken bones or dislocations, 17 incidents of crushed hands or fingers, and nine head injuries. The records also noted five burns, five electrocutions, eight amputations, and seven eye injuries.

The lawsuit and the Reuters investigation collectively highlight a critical issue at SpaceX: a perilous and potentially negligent approach to worker safety. As the company continues to advance its ambitious aerospace projects, these reports raise significant questions about the balance between innovation and the well-being of its employees. And yes, we get it, SpaceX needs and wants to work fast as the New Space Race heats up, but that’s no excuse for repeatedly putting employees in harm’s way.

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