Multi-Plaintiff Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Philippine Mall Fire Tragedy: American Polling Company’s Practices Implicated in Cause of Deaths

(Chicago, December 19, 2019) Survey Sampling International, now known as Dynata, is being sued for the wrongful deaths of 29 employees of its Philippine affiliate, SSI Philippines, arising from a December 23, 2017 fire in the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) in Davao City, Philippines.  The employees were part of a group of 38 young people who were trapped and unable to exit the fourth (top) floor of the building, allegedly due to dangerous working conditions specified in the lawsuit.  All of those trapped ultimately died from asphyxia by suffocation according to medical certifications.

The business practices of the US-based Dynata are alleged to have contributed to this tragedy. According to the complaint, Dynata outsourced telephone polling to a call center it operated and controlled in the Philippines in order to lower operational costs and to maximize profit.  The complaint further alleges that in those efforts to maximize profit, Dynata and its Philippine affiliate neglected the safety and well-being of the victims.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that the 4th floor was not equipped with a working fire alarm, that the 4th floor was not connected to the fire alarm systems on floors 1-3; there were only two fire exits for the 4th floor which were inadequate for the number of people working in the space; one of the two exits was obstructed by steel lockers placed there; the two exit doors were in an open position allowing them to serve as a path for smoke and gas into the 4th floor;  and fire dampers were not installed that would have prevented the rapid spread of gas and smoke to the 4th floor.

Donald J. Nolan and Thomas P. Routh of Chicago-based Nolan Law Group, along with attorney James L. Sullivan of the Connecticut firm of Howard, Kohn, Sprague & Fitzgerald filed the lawsuit today in the Hartford Superior Court. Mr. Nolan noted that “practices such as these endanger foreign workers, as they value profit over human rights and necessities. To corporate executives, they only see numbers and output, bypassing ethics and basic human care.”  Mr. Routh further indicated records show that Philippine Fire Safety officials repeatedly warned of these life safety issues, and noted “that had Dynata taken a fraction of the Philippine profits and applied it to fire safety equipment and training, this tragedy would likely have been prevented.”

According to company press releases, Survey Sampling International merged with Research Now on December 20, 2017, days before the tragedy, then announced a new name and brand, Dynata, on January 15, 2019.  Mr. Nolan believes this re-branding was designed in part to distance the company from the tragedy it caused, and questions whether Dynata informed its American political clients it was outsourcing these jobs to foreign countries and putting the lives of young foreign workers at risk.

The online court docket may be accessed here.  A copy of the complaint may be downloaded at (http://nolan-law.com/pdf/Complaint.pdf).  For further information, please contact Thomas J. Ellis, Nolan Law Group, Tel: (312) 493-3349, Email: tje@nolan-law.com