Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

U.S. Fails to Protect Workers in Antarctica

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 31, 2011

“I am in the mercy of Liberty Mutual right now,” Pacheco said.

by Sophia Tewa 219 Magazine

An unusual man, David Pecheco decided at the age of 50 that he wanted to live the rest of his life in the treacherous South Pole, his wife Tina by his side. In October 2003, he took a job as a journeyman plumber and moved to the McMurdo Station in the southernmost tip of Antarctica, the hub of the United States’ scientific research efforts in the region.

The thrill didn’t last long.  On the morning of January 28, 2007, David Pacheco was sent to an empty building to drain and put antifreeze on pipes without knowing that the electricity was still on. When the water slashed out of the pipes, it conducted two lines of 277 volts throughout his body.

He flew 20 feet in the air. For a minute his heartbeat stopped.

When his supervisors finally arrived, it took them an hour and a half to turn off the electricity.

After several years of physical therapy for brain and nerve damage, Pacheco is still not expected to fully recover. Liberty Mutual, Raytheon’s insurance and worker’s compensation carrier, didn’t give total disability compensation and never paid his medical expenses. When he tried to seek compensation, he learned the hard way that American labor laws barely apply in the secluded world of Antarctica.

Hundreds of injuries have occurred in Antarctica since 2001, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, but only three cases have been reported to the U.S. Department of Labor. This, despite the fact that Antarctic contract employees are entitled to special insurance benefits under the Defense Base Act laws and contract companies are required to report all injuries to the Department of Labor. But Raytheon Polar Services (RPSC), the company hired to run the U.S. Antarctic program, failed to comply with the law.

Since employees are technically always on their job site, any injury even off-duty or recreational should be covered by RPSC’s insurance carrier Liberty Mutual. But it doesn’t always happen. The average worker’s comp cost per injury is $13,261. Liberty Mutual managed to reduce claims by about $1.2 million in 2002, Raytheon reported.

Liberty Mutual, Raytheon’s insurance and worker’s compensation carrier, never paid Pacheco’s $14,000 New Zealand hospital bill.  In the United States, the Pachecos were left to pay for most of their medical expenses. They’re now $20,000 in debt on credit cards.

“I am in the mercy of Liberty Mutual right now,” Pacheco said.

Please read the entire story here

2 Responses to “U.S. Fails to Protect Workers in Antarctica”

  1. […] I am at the Mercy of Liberty Mutual says Pacheco […]

    • C. Saputa MD said

      I would like to contact the unfortunate victim, as I have additional fraudulent corporate and Insurer information, and am fighting the same scheme they pulled in OSHA, Dept. of Labor, NCCI, CO-DWC, CO Div Corp and other frauds. I have uncobered a shabby corporate shel track where multiple venues may reopen aspects of the case and lead support for a DOJ investigation. I am at csaputamd@yahoo ,com and was the McMurdo Station Winter physician, experienceing direct witness to the cover ups and shell games.
      Basic review of Polar Services claims through Liberty in CO will significant percentages of misidentifications of injury dates, locations, severities and Employer entity name. In the World of Corporations and business liability, RPSC is not a legal name, as it is unregistered in CO as a dba, which violates CO (CRS) statutes. Raytheon Company may be the parent full owner of Raytheon Technical Services Co LLC, but corporate law and regulations for forming an LLC forbid Raytheon Company, as an LLC member/stocjholder, from taking name in liabilities. All injuries, by all law and state/fed regulation(Dept.Labor; OSHA; NCCI) must be accurately reported under RTSC LLC and work place is, by law, Centennial, CO @ 7400 S. Tucson Way facility, since contracts were signed there and all direction of management for employment came from there by phone, satellite internet e-mail, and fax. This solves the “Antarctiica is not a country” problem, by Colorado jurisdictional fullment, since Centennial qualifies for the Perryman criteria(2 out of three categories). Registration of all polar employees, must be under RTSC LLC since they had the NSF contract, solely, with actual mention that Raytheon cannot direct the contract(see contract clause). The NSF -1999-present Polar Services contract mandates all Colorado corporate, insurance and OSHA, Dept. of Labor safety laws and injury compensation be followed. How then , in CO jurisdiction, did they divert Wage and UI reporting to Reston, VA? It was illegal, with corrupt undue enrichment to Virginia authorities, coincidentally where the RTSC LLC HQ is. If the employee had the same reference to file UI in Virginia by reporting the same defunct false work place of “Raytheon Support Services Co” in Columbus, OH with phone number going back to Centennial switchboard, then employee was further victimized. VA charges 5.75% state wage tax, while CO charges 4.5%. VA pays max UI at $375/wk while CO pays ~455/wk.
      Yet CO’s caps and allowable time extension of medical benefiots is far less than Virginia. So how can they put the injury in CO jurisdiction under cheaper, more stringent and apparently corrupt WC case management while getting the more benficial UI deal in VA and taking, illegally, out more state taxes by VA rate? They shouldn’t be able to sans corruption or apathy. The officials at CO DWC seem complacent or corrupt, stating that they don’t care, as long as somebody has a policy insured, no questions asked. Yet, they fail to see the ramifications of tax diversions, false safety recording leading to false LLC profile and unfair Gov’t bidding advantages(RICO/Sherman Act) as well as Liberty Mutuals fraudulent statistic reporting to feds, CO as well as mandated NCCI reporting, which establishes, by reported accurate records, insurer rates, and regional insurance pool contribution requirements. Shifting the names and stae locations on claims gives false safety/low liability profile, allowing them to set lower rates for Raytheon LLCs in area, furthering false bidding advantage, and loering Liberty’s required contribution to insurance pool. This deficit, from fraud, causes other regional honest(relatively) businesses and insurers to have to make up highe contributions to pools, and are forced to set higher rates on businesses, thus eliminating a competitive nature wrongly, making their insurance costs seem (artificailly) higher, losing business, or if companies factor in these costs, they lose bids. Liberty Mutual is in it all the way as profiting monopolizing umbrella insurer and is likely doing it for Raytheon holdings across the country, as well as other big corporate conglomerates. Responses such as “why do you care as long as you get a check” does not make good law or deliver justice, nor does it benefit employees to their rightful end.
      Much can come if some Congressman or DOJ, IRS, FBI, FTA or OSHA investigator would simply look into it a little deeper. Liberty’s CO claims for Raytheons over 200-2011 shows enough proof, if each employee-employer-date-injury is questioned. The VA tax diversion also merits a good inquiry, as when questioned, the deputy director of the VA Dept of Revenue stated that many companies divert Wage/UI reporting and payments to VA, but the department never questions it or returns the money to the rightful states unless someone files a complaint and suit. The system tolerates free undue enrichment, which can only be interpreted as a bribe. CO corporate tax law offers no exemption for RTSC LLC’s(a unique separate FEIN, charter registered fLLC corp entity distinct from Raytheon Company also registered by different FEIN/Charter a a fCorp in CO) category of business, and clearly states any hard facility doing or “directing”(DHQ directs all Polar Work) business from Colorado to its employees(>1200/yr at Centennial with a portion permanently stationed in Centennial) must pay CO Wage taxes(The Fed UI payments don’t seem to matter between states after inquiry o them) and local property taxes(tangible and intangible as well as CO state assessed property tax fees for stadiums, roads, etc. Much is wrong in this Oz, and no one seems to care, as several attorneys involved from ythe CO DWC list already took the same attitude of “why do you care how they filed your case?”. This violates CO Bar ethics and rules, and CRS-CO Supreme Court-Attorney Regulation Rules of Conduct. Ther is ample evidence a dedicated anti-corruption statesman or federal official can make great gains for all the past and future employees encountering such safety and injury corrupt handling, and possibly prevent such attitude by corporations from gaining future contracts from tax payer funded US Departments.

      Christopher Saputa MD

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