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Lawsuit Claims 650 Falls in NY Were Fraud

TUESDAY, MARCH 26, 2024


A New York-based insurance company has recently filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that construction workers statewide are staging construction site falls to commit fraud.

Tradesman Program Managers, which focuses on specialty programs for the construction industry, says it has been investigating the fake falls for over a year as a result of insurance premiums skyrocketing.

According to the company, medical professionals, attorneys and construction workers are allegedly part of the scam that has resulted in millions of dollars being awarded under false pretenses.

Per the lawsuit filed by Tradesmen Insurance, medical professionals reportedly take advantage of Spanish-speaking immigrant workers to employ them to become involved in the false claims, Equipment World reports.

Once a staged incident is held, the worker responds to a lawyer before approaching any medical professional. A basic trip and fall incident that may normally cause a bruised knee or similar minor injury may be elevated, at least on paper, to something that leads to a multi-million-dollar permanent disability-style workers' compensation claim. 

Filings for the lawsuit include video footage of some of the alleged “falls” that have led to claims being filed.

"Eyewitness News" from local outlet ABC7NY says that one video shows a woman on a construction site gingerly walking down a makeshift staircase. When she gets to one of the last steps she stumbles and falls.

©iStock.com / mediaphones
A New York-based insurance company has recently filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that construction workers statewide are staging construction site falls to commit fraud.
©iStock.com / mediaphones

A New York-based insurance company has recently filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that construction workers statewide are staging construction site falls to commit fraud.

While it doesn't appear to be a major fall, according to the lawsuit she later filed against the property owner and construction company, she suffered injuries that have left her “permanently disabled and suffering from severe mental shock and anguish.”

Another video reportedly revealed a man working at a construction site in Queens who said that as a result of a trip and fall, he suffered spinal and knee injuries that required major surgery and caused permanent physical damage.

“They train the migrants how to act at some of these staged accidents,” said attorney Kirk Willis. “And then when the people are hurt—allegedly hurt—they go to the lawyer first, not the doctor, and the lawyer then starts a course that sets up these fraudulent lawsuits.”

Tradesmen says it has received what it believes to be more than 650 fraudulent claims over the last four years.

“If we did not have the proof, we would not have filed the complaint,” said attorney William Clay.

The New York Trial Lawyers’ Association and New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health have not commented despite attempts to be reached by ABC7NY.

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Other New York Fraud Schemes

Earlier this month, an investigation found that a New York construction safety firm provided fraudulent safety certificates and cards to about 20,000 students.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg Jr., New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber and New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo announced the New York State Supreme Court indictment of Valor Security and Investigations, including six of its executives and employees, for operating a sham safety training school at the end of last month.

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In addition to the indictment, the company and four individuals are also charged with reckless endangerment after one man who supposedly received training from Valor fell to his death.

Last year, in May, the Manhattan District Attorney recently announced indictments charging eight individuals and six companies with fraud and corruption within the construction industry, regarding affordable housing projects in New York City.

Shortly before that, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced a major expansion of the state’s Construction Fraud Task Force to identify, investigate and prosecute corruption and fraud in the construction industry.

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Formed in 2015, the first-of-its-kind Task Force was developed to investigate criminal health and safety lapses in the industry, including worksite fatalities and safety hazards, as well as issues of construction corruption and fraud in the New York City metro area.

It originally included agencies such as the New York City Department of Investigation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Office of the Inspector General, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Office of the Inspector General and the Business Integrity Commission for the City of New York.

The agencies reportedly meet monthly to work collaboratively and probe the commission of crimes including fraud, bribery, extortion, money laundering, bid rigging, larceny and safety violations, among others. The “overarching goal” of the Task Force is to ensure fairness and safety, as well as deter future fraud and misconduct, the District Attorney’s Office states.

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The latest expansion now includes statewide and federal agencies, including the New York State Department of Labor, the New York State Insurance Fund, the New York State Office of the Inspector General, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Tagged categories: Construction; Fall protection; Fraud; Good Technical Practice; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Insurance; Labor; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; Program/Project Management; Workers


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