Federal Judge Orders New Jersey’s Most Flagrant OSHA Violator to Pay $2 Million
A federal judge is cracking down on an employer with a long history of exposing employees to workplace hazards.
A federal judge, alongside the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, has granted OSHA’s motion for summary judgement against New Jersey contractor Juan Quevedo-Garcia, owner and principal of BB Frame LLC. The motion is an attempt to combine all penalties levied against Quevedo-Garcia and his company—making him personally liable for over $2 million.
The ruling comes after five OSHA inspections at four Bergen County worksites beginning in December 2019. Violations found during the inspections led to OSHA proposing $2,004,225 in penalties against BB Frame LLC, and Quevedo-Garcia individually.
Earlier in 2019, according to an OSHA press release, Quevedo-Garcia had dissolved his previous company which had racked up over $700,000 in OSHA fines that went unpaid for similar prior violations. This however, did not stop him from continuing to do business.
Here’s a summary of the inspections:
December 2019. OSHA conducted two inspections. One was in response to a complaint at a worksite in Cliffside Park that resulted in nine safety violations and a $520,860 penalty. The second, at a Fort Lee location, resulted in five citations and a proposed penalty of $426,785.
January 2020. As part of the agency’s local emphasis program for fall hazards, OSHa opened an investigation at another Cliffside Park location that resulted in five safety citations and a $405,588 penalty.
- February 2020. OSHA completed two more inspections at a Palisades Park site. The first was initiated under the local emphasis program for fall hazards, and resulted in three citations and a proposed penalty of $274,892, and the second was in response to a worker compliant. It resulted in eight violations and a $369,000 penalty.
From the five inspections, OSHA identified eight willful, 10 repeat, and 12 serious violations for hazards that included failure to use fall, head and eye protection; unsafe use of stepladders; scaffolding, housekeeping and fire safety deficiencies; lack of stair rials and lack of forklift training.
The judge granted summary judgment in a decision issued on Feb. 25, 2022, holding Quevedo-Garcia personally liable for the citations and for payment of a total combined penalty of $2,004,225 for all violations. The judge’s decision found that Quevedo-Garcia “dominated BB Frame and abused its corporate form to circumvent the OSH Act,” and therefore holding Quevedo-Garcia “personally liable for the company’s violations and resulting penalties is necessary to prevent the continued or renewed circumvention of the OSH Act and avoidance of the Act’s expressed legislative purpose and policy.”
“Among construction industry employers, Juan Quevedo-Garcia and his shell companies have been the most prominent OSHA scofflaws in New Jersey in the past decade. The administrative law judge’s decision stops this employer from ignoring safety in the future and sets a critical precedent that the U.S. Department of Labor will use every enforcement and legal tool available against serial violators who attempt to evade federal safety laws with corporate shell games,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda in an OSHA press release.