BELLINGHAM, Wash. — State officials say a blueberry farm in northwestern Washington was not at fault in the death of a 28-year-old migrant worker in August but the farm is being fined for violations related to late meals and missed employee breaks.
The Bellingham Herald reports the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries made the announcement Thursday in the death of Honesto Silva Ibarra.
The agency fined Sarbanand Farms nearly $150,000 for the violations.
Ibarra fell ill while working at Sarbanand Farms in Sumas and was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he died Aug. 6. An autopsy determined he died of natural causes.
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“We are relieved and reassured that state investigators concluded what we have known all along — that Mr. Ibarra’s death, while tragic, was not the result of the company’s actions or policies,” Sarbanand said in a statement.
Ibarra was among about 600 workers, all from Mexico, who were brought to the farm under the H-2A visa program. A class action lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of the farmworkers hired to pick blueberries last summer.
The farm is owned by California-based Munger Brothers.
Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton contributed to this report.