The widow of a man fatally shot by a hunter who mistook him for a bear has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the hunter and three Western Washington companies, one of them headquartered in Tacoma.

Marta Gomez-Mendoza contends Gerald Aldrich “failed to exercise reasonable care to identify his target” before he accidentally killed her husband, Carlos Pablo-Carrillo, in the Mason County woods in September 2010.

Gomez-Mendoza claims the three companies – the Kirk Co. of Tacoma, Two Noble Guys and Hiawatha, Inc., both of Shelton – created a dangerous condition by allowing hunters and forest-product workers access to the same piece of land simultaneously.

Pablo-Carillo, 24, was in thick brush harvesting a plant called salal when he died. Salal is used in the floral industry. “In this case, one of the workers was shot and killed as a result of the dangerous condition created by the corporate defendants in their pursuit of profits, leaving a widow and a fatherless daughter,” the lawsuit states.
Seattle attorney Matthew Geyman filed the suit on behalf of Gomez-Mendoza and her daughter in Pierce County Superior Court this month.

An official for Hiawatha declined to comment last week, saying the company had not yet seen the lawsuit. Efforts to reach Aldrich and officials with Kirk and Two Noble Guys were unsuccessful.

The lawsuit contends that Pablo-Carrillo was gathering salal to sell to Hiawatha, an affiliate of Two Noble Guys. He was looking for the plant on land owned by Kirk but leased to Two Noble Guys.

“Hiawatha had designated the location and directed Mr. Pablo-Carrillo to work in the location where he was shot,” the suit states. “Hiawatha was also involved with its affiliate, Two Noble Guys, in selling the permit that allowed Mr. Pablo-Carrillo to work on the land.”

It was bear-hunting season, and Aldrich had permission to hunt the land were Pablo-Carrillo was working, the lawsuit states.

“Unlike the corporate defendants, the hunter did not know that the worker would be there at the time picking salal in the dense brush,” the suit states.

Aldrich shot Pablo-Carrillo with a .30-caliber rifle. He was charged with manslaughter, but a Mason County jury acquitted him.