Contractor guilty in California wildfire death labor case

SALINAS, Calif. (AP) — The owner of a bulldozer that overturned and killed the operator while battling a huge California wildfire has been found guilty of violating labor laws.

KQED-TV says a Monterey County judge ruled Wednesday that Ian Czirban failed to have workers' compensation insurance that's required for companies contracting with California's state fire agency, Cal Fire.

Czirban owned the dozer that toppled down an embankment during a 2016 blaze near Big Sur. The operator, Robert Reagan, died.

KQED-TV says Czirban's attorney argued that Reagan wasn't a traditional employee but an independent contractor.

The judge rejected that argument.

After Reagan died, two other heavy equipment contractors died while helping Cal Fire battle large wildfires. Their employers, who also didn't have workers' comp, were fined, cited or shut down by state officials.