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State: New York
Area of Interest:New York Manufacturer Ordered to Pay Back
Wages and Punitive Damages to Two Employees Fired for Filing an OSHA
The U.S. District
Court for the Western District of New York has ordered a Ransomville,
N.Y., tool manufacturer and its president to pay two workers a total
of $35,800 in back wages and $10,500 in punitive damages for
terminating them from their jobs after the men filed a complaint with
the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health
The order, signed
Feb. 8, by Chief Judge Richard J. Acara, requires defendants V.R.K.
Manufacturing and Tools Co. Inc. and company president Roman Klur to
make payment within 60 days and permanently prohibits them from
violating the anti-retaliation provisions of the Occupational Safety
and Health Act.
Two employees of
V.R.K. Manufacturing and Tools were fired on May 3, 2003, one week
after filing a complaint with OSHA about safety and health issues at
their workplace. The workers then filed a whistleblower complaint
with OSHA, alleging they were discriminated against for exercising
the rights granted them under the OSH Act.
investigation found merit in the complaint and the agency sought
reinstatement, back pay and benefits for the workers. When the
employer repeatedly refused to settle the matter, the U.S. Labor
Department filed suit in federal court to enforce the findings.
Source: Occupational Safety and
Area of Interest: Chicago Furniture
Builder Fined $218,200 for Violation of Federal Workplace Safety
Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) has proposed $218,200 in fines against steel frame furniture
manufacturer Dehler Manufacturing Co. Inc. following an inspection at
the company's Chicago facility.
OSHA opened a
follow-up inspection at Dehler after the company failed to show it
had corrected safety violations involving power press brakes and
mechanical power presses identified in a February 2005 inspection.
The most recent
inspection, opened August 2005, found continuing problems with power
presses and resulted in one serious, three willful and five repeat
citations for violation of safety and health standards. Alleged
serious and willful violations involved lack of guarding on
mechanical power presses and power press brakes to prevent employees
from exposure to amputations or crushing; failing to conduct safety
inspections on the machines, and not incorporating the correct type
of drive motor starter in mechanical power press controls.
violations, based on several earlier citations issued to the company,
involved inadequate employee training; failure to develop and utilize
hazardous energy isolation procedures for mechanical power presses;
lack of periodic inspection of resistance welders, and other issues
threatening the safety of workers operating mechanical power presses.
Source: Occupational Safety and
Area of Interest:Insurance Department Announces 2005 Top 10
Insurance Fraud Cases
Ohio Department of Insurance Director
Ann Womer Benjamin announced the Department's "Top 10" insurance
fraud cases for 2005, which involved a total of more than $5.5
The Department reorganized its Office
of Investigative and Licensing Services in 2005 to create a Fraud and
Enforcement Office and a Market Regulation and Licensing Office. Both
offices were allocated with additional resources, which immediately
made a positive impact. In 2005, the Department opened 139 consumer
insurance fraud cases. Fifty-six of those cases were referred for
prosecution, an increase of 144% over those referred in 2004. A total
of 240 insurance agent misconduct actions - compared to 108 in 2004
- were referred for administrative action, criminal action - or
The Department's top fraud cases for
1. Former Agent Sentenced for $2.5 Million Premium Misappropriation
Philip A. Regano - Cleveland: Regano
was indicted August 4, 2005 on one count of mail fraud. He pleaded
guilty on October 5, 2005. On December 22, 2005 he was sentenced to
63 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release,
and was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $2.5 million.
Regano misappropriated over $600,000 from insurance clients by taking
money to invest in policies that did not exist. He also
misappropriated funds from clients by selling promissory notes in
gold products and then using the money for his own purposes. The
Department revoked Regano's insurance license on July 26, 2005.
Former Agent Gets Four Years for $200,000 Theft
William Tad Cuckler - Athens: Cuckler
pleaded guilty on December 15, 2005 to three counts of theft and one
count of aggravated theft for stealing more than $200,000 from his
clients. Cuckler took their money to invest in annuities, but instead
he used it for his own purposes. In some cases he used money from new
clients to pay back money he had taken from previous clients. Cuckler
was sentenced on January 27, 2006 to four years in prison. The
Department revoked Cuckler's insurance license on October 24, 2005.
Agent's License Revoked for Stealing $215,000 from Seniors
David B. Paige - Marietta: Paige was
found guilty of two counts of theft, and was sentenced to five years
in prison on April 15, 2005. Paige withdrew $215,000 from his three
clients' retirement annuities for his own use. The insurance
companies which held the annuities made the victims whole, and Paige
was ordered to pay restitution to the insurance companies. The
Department revoked Paige's insurance license on January 31, 2005.
Agent Steals $80,000 from Elderly Client
Randall L. Webb - Springboro: Webb
was convicted on July 15, 2005 of theft by deception for stealing
approximately $80,000 from the annuity of a retired elderly client.
Webb was sentenced two years in prison. The Department is pursuing
revocation of his license.
Agent Disciplined for $49,000 Annuity Theft
Michael L. Fair - Cincinnati: Fair
was convicted on November 9, 2005 of one count of theft for stealing
$49,000 of annuity retirement money from an elderly client. Fair was
sentenced to one year in jail, but the sentence was suspended when he
made full restitution to the victim. Fair is serving one year under
community control. The Department revoked his insurance license on
December 12, 2005.
Arson and $250,000 Insurance Fraud Nets Prison Time
Kevin Dalton - Athens: Dalton pleaded
guilty on January 21, 2005 to engaging in a pattern of corrupt
activity, aggravated arson and insurance fraud. He was sentenced to
eight years in prison and was ordered to forfeit his real estate
valued at more than $300,000. Dalton was responsible for burning down
two residences in Athens County, after being paid by the homeowners
to carry out the act. This was part of a scheme to defraud two
insurers of $250,000 of insurance proceeds. Both homeowners also
pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and were each sentenced to three
years in prison.
7. Fake Flood Claim of $122,000
Results in Indictment for Claimant
Martin McNamee - Columbus: In July of
2001 McNamee submitted a flood loss claim to his insurer for a broken
water line, which was settled for $122,000. An investigation
determined that he allegedly staged the loss and used the proceeds to
finance his struggling business. He was indicted on August 12, 2005
by a grand jury on charges of money laundering, mail fraud and for
filing false tax returns.
8. Illegal $1.6 Misappropriation
Ruins Business, Hurts Many
Gloria Long and Mike Wozniak, Midwest
Title - Delaware: Gloria Long and her husband Mike Wozniak were
indicted on November 15, 2005 on six counts of theft, six counts of
money laundering and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt
activity. The charges arose out of allegations that Long, the owner
of Midwest Title, had spent more than $1.6 million that had been
improperly transferred from the escrow accounts of Midwest Title.
These acts caused the collapse of Midwest Title and resulted in
serious financial hardship for consumers whose escrowed funds
disappeared. The Department revoked Gloria Long's license on July 2,
2001. This matter is scheduled for trial before the Delaware County
Common Pleas Court.
Indicted on 52 Felony Charges in $760,000 Fraud
Carl Fanaro - Columbus: On July 1,
2005 Fanaro and a co-defendant, William Mayes, were indicted on 52
felony charges relating to the illegal sales of securities. They were
indicted on January 27, 2006 on 105 felony charges, including
securities violations, receiving stolen property and engaging in a
pattern of corrupt activities. These charges arose out of allegations
as to their conduct in making sales of investment contracts to a
number of Fanaro's insurance clients. Fanaro's insurance license
was revoked on December 8, 2004. The criminal charges are set for
trial before the Licking County Common Pleas Court.
Trial Date Set in $60,000 Staged Accident Case
Terri Pennington - Columbus: Between
July and September of 2004 Pennington was allegedly involved in five
staged accidents in Franklin County. These accidents involved claims
of bodily injuries being filed with various insurance companies. On
July 28, 2005 Pennington and five others were indicted on charges of
insurance fraud, theft and falsification. The case is scheduled for
trial before the Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
Source: State of Ohio
of Interest: OSHA Proposes More Than $332,000 in
Penalties for Workplace Hazards At Birmingham Foundry
The U.S. Labor
Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has
cited McWane Cast Iron Pipe for 38 safety and health hazards at the
company's Birmingham plant. The agency is proposing penalties
In August, OSHA
conducted comprehensive safety and health inspections at the facility
under its site-specific targeting program that identifies workplaces
with high rates of injuries and illnesses. The program is used to
target inspections based on an annual survey of some 80,000
workplaces in high-hazard industries.
OSHA issued 10
repeat citations, with proposed penalties of $242,700, against the
company. Alleged violations included exposing workers to: silica
above permissible levels; "struck by" injuries from
improperly blocked and stacked pipes and from a ladle without safety
latches that carried hot molten metal; unguarded machinery,
electrical hazards and falls through unguarded floor openings and
Source: Occupational Safety and
Interest: OSHA Issues Final Standard on Hexavalent Chromium
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will publish a final standard
for occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium in the Feb. 28,
2006, Federal Register. The standard covers occupational exposure to
hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) in general industry, construction and
The new standard
lowers OSHA's permissible exposure limit (PEL) for hexavalent
chromium, and for all Cr(VI) compounds, from 52 to 5 micrograms of
Cr(VI) per cubic meter of air as an 8-hour time- weighted average.
The standard also includes provisions relating to preferred methods
for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, protective work
clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, medical
surveillance, hazard communication and recordkeeping.
chromium compounds are widely used in the chemical industry as
ingredients and catalysts in pigments, metal plating and chemical
synthesis. Cr(VI) can also be produced when welding on stainless
steel or Cr(VI)-painted surfaces. The major health effects associated
with exposure to Cr(VI) include lung cancer, nasal septum ulcerations
and perforations, skin ulcerations, and allergic and irritant contact
Source: Occupational Safety and
of Interest: Ohio Property and Casualty Insurance Rates
Still Among Lowest in Nation
Ohio insurance consumers continued to
benefit from a healthy property and casualty market in 2005 and rates
are not expected to change significantly in 2006, Ohio Department of
Insurance Director Ann Womer Benjamin announced. Homeowners insurance
rates offered by the state's top ten insurers rose less than one
percent in 2005 while automobile insurance rates decreased 1.6
Department statistics indicate that
homeowners insurance rates across the state rose 2.2 percent in 2004,
following increases of 9.9 percent in 2003 and 18.1 percent in 2002.
In 2005, rates rose only 0.3 percent statewide. State Farm, Ohio's
largest home insurer with 22.4 percent of the market, dropped its
rates 2.5 percent in 2005.
From 2001 to 2003, automobile insurance
rates increased 4 percent each year. The three-year trend ended in
2004 with an average increase of only 0.2 percent. In 2005,
automobile insurance rates decreased 1.6 percent. State Farm,
Progressive, Westfield, Cincinnati, Erie and American Family
insurance companies all implemented decreases in rates in 2005,
according to the Department.
Department analysts expect that rates
for homeowners and automobile insurance, overall, will not change
significantly in 2006. Changes in homeowners insurance rates can be
attributed to building and materials costs and weather-related
claims, while changes in automobile insurance rates can be attributed
to repair costs, medical costs, weather-related claims, and the
number of cars on Ohio's roads.
Source: State of Ohio
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