June 6, 2008

A Tree Falls in Rhode Island

We have been following the case of Edgar Valasquez, the undocumented worker who was seriously injured by a chain saw in 2006. (Our two prior blogs are here and here.) His employer, Billy G's Tree Service, failed to carry workers comp insurance. When Edgar showed up at the courthouse for his comp hearing, federal agents (apparently tipped off by Billy G) arrested and deported him.

The story appeared to have a reasonably happy ending. With a lot of community support, Edgar secured a temporary visa to plead his case. He was supposed to receive a $30,000 settlement. Now Billy Gorman has fired his attorney, Michael St. Pierre, claiming he never agreed to the deal. St. Pierre says he sent Gorman three "very detailed" letters specifying the settlement's terms. (After working with the recalcitrant Gorman, St. Pierre has earned his sainthood!)

The settlement involves 10 monthly payments of $300 per month, for 30 years. Because he failed to carry insurance, Billy himself was on the hook for the payments. That's a lot of tree trimming. Meanwhile, Edgar's lawyer, Maureen Gemma, thinks the settlement was too easy on Billy: too small an amount, paid out over too long a period of time. She will undoubtedly take advantage of Billy's balk to up the ante.

Gemma reports that Edgar, back home in Mexico, is "patient as always. He's just a good person." Probably not the way anyone would describe his former boss.

This all brings to mind the query, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?" A tree has fallen in Rhode Island, felled by Billy G. and his crew. A lot of people heard it and are still listening, as the sound reverberates through dusty halls of the workers comp system.




I feel sorry for Edgar and the settlement is probably way too small.

But he should not get anything because Billy G. should be out of business and in jail for knowingly hiring illegal aliens, not carrying required insurance, using law enforcement for personal gain, coercion and other assorted crimes. Edgar should be in the next cell for identity theft, failure to file required federal documents and probably tax fraud among other things. The law enforcement officers that arrested Edgar should lose their jobs for using their official position to enhance the private gains of someone else.

Until the government straightens out the whole illegal alien (not undocumented worker, PLEASE) situation; who are committing multiple felonies by being here and working in the US in violation of multiple Federal and probably State statues; idiots like Billy G. will continue to create competitive advantages by abusing them.



Goes to show why States need stricter penalties for uninsured employers. The State of Rhode Island should use the opportunity to pass some real legislation to address similar situations.

Kudos to Charles. Bob & I have sponsered 2 foreign citizens to the US. One of them, after working for us for 4 years has moved on to become an W/C underwriter for a major carrier. The other one, though he works for a national personal lines agency, still refers business to us. We paid alot of money to have them here legally. They have more than paid us back by becoming law abiding, tax paying, contributing citizens. We need better laws to address imigration issues not only in Rhode Island but nationally. Walking across a border or overstaying a temporary visa is just unaceptable! As to the issue of employers who do not carry workers compensation, I believe they should be heavily penalized even to the point of losing their business license if necessary!!


Submit your email to be notified when this site is updated

Need help with your workers' comp program?

Monthly Archives

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on June 6, 2008 11:06 AM.

News roundup: Cavalcade of Risk, disease mongering, claims adjusting, crane safety, and more was the previous entry in this blog.

There Goes the Judge is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID