No indictments have been returned in the five-year probe but one accused participant, former Neptune Beach accountant Robert West, recently went to state prison for paying to have a workers compensation investigator killed. His plan was stopped by state investigators.
U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Steve Cole declined comment on the lawsuit.
Attorney Curtis Fallgatter, who has several clients under investigation by the grand jury, said evidence gathered in the suit could bring out facts about illegal workers on construction job sites and how they are paid. But federal prosecutors would still have to prove D.R. Horton and other contractors knowingly hired illegal aliens, a much higher standard of proof, Fallgatter said.
"I'd be a little surprised if it came to light that the Hortons were hiring subcontractors to hire subcontractors to hire illegal aliens," Fallgatter said.
Gomez entered the United States illegally in March but had since applied for a green card allowing him to work legally, Pajcic said. He came to Jacksonville to work construction and was earning about $400 a week when the accident occurred.
Gomez and a crew of three other illegal Mexican workers were lifting a large beam when it fell on him, according to the lawsuit. With no telephone to call for help, the other workers put him in a van and drove him to Memorial, Pajcic said.
"They did not provide any training to these workers. They did not provide any equipment, such as a scaffold or even a crane," Pajcic said. "There were no helmets provided to these workers, which might have prevented this injury."
From his hospital bed at Memorial, Gomez, unable to speak, nodded in agreement as Pajcic explained the lawsuit to him Monday afternoon. Gomez's parents, who got permission to come from Mexico to visit him, wept as they described a happy, friendly son who planned to return to Mexico and marry his fiancee of seven years this December.
Pajcic said Gomez also has filed a workers compensation claim against the framer, FCF Inc. of Jacksonville. Officials there couldn't be reached for comment, but attorneys said they expect the claim to be rejected.
Humphress said D.R. Horton is "meticulous" about making sure its subcontractors comply with workers compensation rules and have liability insurance. But subcontractors frequently farm out work to other subcontractors, and the company can't keep track of all of those, she said.
But the suit contends the ultimate responsibility lies with D.R. Horton.
"When a tragic injury like Jorge's occurs, D.R. Horton should not be able to hide behind sham subcontractors and cover its eyes and pretend to see and hear no evil," Pajcic said. "As the owner and contractor for this home, D.R. Horton ... has the duty under Florida law to maintain a safe place to work. It woefully breached that duty in Mr. Gomez's case."
Mr Gomez gets to now experience the downside of being an illegal alien.
If it turns out they are lying, DJ Horton needs to get taken to the cleaners.
There are seven thousand attorneys who work for illegals night and day obstructing our laws. They support illegals caught in racketeering, drug smuggling, robberies and murder.
I'm sure the attorneys would love to be able to start suing Americans for illegals' injuries suffered on the jobs. I don't know why they haven't thought of that before now. I see the lawyer fee becoming an enticement for such suits.