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Court: Roofer in Contempt, Owes $405K

Friday, September 11, 2015

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A roofing contractor has been found in contempt of court and must pay the federal government nearly $405,000 in fines for ignoring a 2011 court order or face additional penalties.

The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 24 that Lessard Roofing and Siding Inc. and Lessard Brothers Construction, both in Greene, ME, are in contempt of a December 2011 U.S. District Court for the District of Maine order.

© /  majorosl

The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that Maine-based Lessard Roofing and Siding Inc. and owner Stephen Lessard are in contempt of a 2011 court order that stated he owes $405,0000 in safety fines.

The appeals court said that owner Stephen Lessard owes the agency $404,485 plus interest and fees for 11 safety violations at 11 different worksites.

‘He Could Find Himself in Jail’

Lessard, who previously said he has not paid the fines because he doesn’t have the money, had 20 days to comply with the order or face additional penalties, according to an Aug. 24 statement from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Mr. Lessard repeatedly flouted [his] obligation and violated standing court orders; the Labor Department responded by seeking, and obtaining, a contempt finding by the court of appeals that requires him to pay the fines he owes and comply with his safety and health responsibilities,” said Michael Felsen, New England regional solicitor of labor, in the statement.

“If he fails to take this finding seriously, the court has made clear he could find himself in jail until he does.”

Violations Continue

In its order, the Court of Appeals also said Lessard must demonstrate that he has abated 11 different safety violations that date back as far as 2000.

The nearly $405,000 plus penalties does not include a $287,000 OSHA fine for an egregious willful violation that the agency said it found during a January inspection in Lewiston, ME. That violation was for fall-related hazards, as are most of the company’s previous violations, the agency said in March.

‘Unfairly Targeted’

In March, after the government had filed its motion for contempt, Lessard said he had been “unfairly targeted” by competitors who file complaints with the federal safety agency in an effort to put him out of business, according to a statement provided to the Lewiston Sun Journal.

The contractor told the newspaper that he had not paid the fines because he could not afford them.

“I don’t make that kind of money,” he told the newspaper.

Lessard’s business, which has operated for 27 years, nets $60,000 a year, he said.

© /  Leslie Achtymichuk

Between 2000 and 2011, Lessard’s companies were cited for a total of 48 safety violations at 11 different work sites in Maine. In January, he received another $287,000 OSHA  fine for a fall hazard.

Lessard said his company was “one of the few” that used safety harnesses when they are needed. He said OSHA inspectors took photos when workers were unclipping their harnesses to take a break or before they donned the gear to work, the report said.

“We were making the attempt to have safety,” he said.

Between 2000 and 2011, Lessard’s companies were cited for a total of 48 safety violations at 11 different work sites in Maine, OSHA said.

The cases alleged multiple serious, repeat and/or willful violations of OSHA fall-protection, scaffold, ladder, electrical, head-protection and other health and safety standards.

Unable to Settle

In March, Lessard filed a motion and was granted an extension to respond to the contempt charges, the Sun Journal reported. In that motion, he said he had not been able to find an attorney and that he believed he would be able to reach a settlement with the DOL.

But in May, the DOL said the parties were unable to reach a settlement, the newspaper said.


Tagged categories: Fall protection; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Roofing contractors; Safety; Violations

Comment from john lienert, (9/11/2015, 7:02 AM)


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