A Tree Falls in Rhode Island

June 6th, 2008 by

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.