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."
I wouldn't be suprised at all.
I think a large part of the problem can be solved by privatizing the law enforcement as much as possible. It's very unlikely Congress will privatize the border patrol to stop the supply of illegal labor. But it is practical to pass legislation enabling the private sector to reduce the demand for illegal labor.
A good place to start is to hold employers liable for the medical expenses incurred by their illegal employees and to give hospitals currently forced to cover those expenses the right to recover from employers in civil courts. If states passed such laws, the cost of illegal labor would rise sharply, demand would fall, and fewer illegals would find it economically advantageous to flood the border.
This proposal doesn't address every problem but it does at least avoid the Achilles heel of most reform proposals: excessive dependence on government law [non-]enforcement. The only government action required is passing one law in each state (or one at the federal level). And I'm sure there is enough civic outrage in most states to force legislatures to pass the bills.
There is a BORDER and there are LAWS.
(iii) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v)5/ during and in relation to which the person causes serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of title 18, United States Code) to, or places in jeopardy the life of, any person, be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both;
Somebody's in trouble. Mr. Gomer's staying home would have done more to prevent injury from a steel beam than a helmet...
After Katrina Horton rolled into Louisiana and bought up every available lot to build a house on, literally thousands of them. Then the Mexicans began showing up. We had some Mexicans working here prior to that but they seemed to be a little higher caliber. This new group doesn’t speak English. And now when you walk across the jobsites you see tons of empty beer bottles. THAT ALONE would be grounds for getting rid of a subcontractor. Allowing employees to drink on the job is just plain stupid and most dangereous.
I’ve had real problems working around them because they are unable to speak to us. This is actually a safety concern. If one was about to be crushed by a piece of heavy equipment we couldn’t even yell out a warning. I have been through some of the O.S.H.A. training courses and I know I remember it being a requirement that “there be a competent foreman for each crew.” Being competent would include speaking English here as far as I’m concerned.
I also have tons of problems with them destroying work we’ve done. They just either don’t care or don’t know not to run over piping in a foundation with a Bobcat. So we end up breaking concrete in houses after someone has already moved in. It’s a sad state.
Border Patrol now makes regular stops in all the Horton subdivisions around here. And now when I need to communicate with someone who only speaks Spanish I have the cell phone number to the Border Patrol agent who covers this area. He’s always happy to stop by and translate. And if they are here illegally then whatever problem I was having with them is solved immediatley.
On the other side of the coin I don’t see any locals looking around for jobs. Maybe they all aquired higher education and took those high paying white collar jobs. But somehow I doubt it.
The problem is our fault for not securring the borders. Maybe we can build a moat and fill it with alligators. But then they’d show up wearing new alligator boots. We allow companies to get away with hiring these people “on the side” and not withholding workmans comp and taxes. So how can a legitimate contractor compete with that? His labor will cost 30 percent more at least.
In stead of charging a fine for a company hiring illegals I say order them to cease doing business. Take away their license, close them down, and seize then sell their assets. The money from the sale can go to hiring new border patrol agents. If you make the penalty stiff enough and enforce it I guarantee you no one would hire anyone who is here illegally no matter what language they spoke.