Satellite company sues former worker and clients

Kelly Holleran Mar. 9, 2010, 8:51am

A satellite company and its president claim they should not be required to pay one of their independent contractor's workers' compensation claim after the contractor fell from their clients' roof while working to repair a satellite. In fact, the company and its president claim the clients should pay it damages because of the incident.

A-1 Satellite of Cahokia Inc and its president Gregory C. Narez filed a lawsuit Feb. 22 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against independent contractor Toni Chamberlain and clients Judy and Robert Reese.

In their complaint, A-1 Satellite and Narez claim Chamberlain spun two different tales of how his injuries occurred.

According to their first allegation, A-1 Satellite and Narez claim they asked Chamberlain to perform warranty work for the Reeses at their home at 3758 Cabernet in Edwardsville on Feb. 20, 2008.

So, on Feb. 23, 2008, Chamberlain visited the Reese residence on his own time. Using his own materials, Chamberlain attempted to replace an incorrectly installed fitting that he had previously installed on Oct. 20, 2007, according to the complaint.

However, when he tried to climb a ladder leading to the Reeses' roof, Chamberlain fell from it, causing his alleged injuries, the suit states.

But in a second allegation, A-1 Satellite and Narez claim Chamberlain told Narez that he became injured on Feb. 23, 2008, after falling from his father's roof.

Nevertheless, in their complaint, A-1Satellite and Narez blame the Reeses for causing Chamberlain's fall, saying they failed to provide a safe environment for servicing satellites; failed to warn Chamberlain the premises were landscaped only months prior to the incident, making the ground soft; failed to warn Chamberlain of clear ice on the roof; and failed to install the satellite mount in a suitable place where it could easily be serviced.

On Jan. 15, Chamberlain filed for workers' compensation because of injuries he claims he sustained while working at the Reeses' residence, the suit states.

But A-1 Satellite and Narez contend they should not be forced to pay Chamberlain a penny because he signed an employment agreement in which he agreed to make warranty repairs at his expense and on his own time, the complaint says. Chamberlain also signed an independent contractor agreement with A-1 Satellite and Narez in which he agreed to hold the company harmless and indemnify it for all claims arising out of Chamberlain's or his employees' work, the company and its president claim.

In fact, during the negotiations and agreements which allowed Chamberlain to become an independent contractor, A-1 Satellite and Narez claim they required him to purchase his own workers' compensation insurance, liability insurance and auto insurance before they let him work. Chamberlain led the plaintiffs to believe he had purchased the necessary insurance on Dec. 10, 2007, according to the complaint.

In their suit, A-1 Satellite and Narez say Chamberlain filed a workers' compensation complaint solely because he knew A-1 Satellite to be in negotiations for sale of its business. Such a claim would delay the sale of the business, Chamberlain knew, the complaint says.

"Chamberlain knew he filed a fraudulent wc claim, that Chamberlain was supposed to have carried his own wc insurance, and Chamberlain's purposefully interfered with d/b/a legitimate expectancy to sell business to clients of Business Resources, or others, from ripening into a valid business relationship," the suit states.

In addition, because Chamberlain did not file suit against the Reeses after his fall, A-1 Satellite and Narez say they have become entitled to stand in his place and should be able to file suit against the Reeses for Chamberlain's damages.

Not only did A-1 Satellite and Narez decide to file allegations against Chamberlain for his alleged wrongful workers' compensation claim, but also composed a list of other wrongs for which it blames Chamberlain.

For example, the plaintiffs claim Chamberlain incorrectly installed a satellite at Doug Clary's residence. In addition, he damaged Ricky Metz's property when he drilled into Metz's fuse box. And on Dec. 13, 2008, Chamberlain caused A-1 Satellite and Narez to lose a sale with Barbara Lowry when he lied as to the line of site and caused Lowry to cancel her install and purchase from A-1 Satellite, according to the complaint.

In the complaint, Narez accuses Chamberlain of assault, saying Chamberlain called him on Dec. 23, 2008, and threatened him with violence unless Narez agreed to hand over a certain amount of money to Chamberlain. Narez owed Chamberlain no money, the suit states.

"On or about December 23, 2008, Chamberlain threatened the following: F***ing Greg Narez up (physically), destroying Greg Narez's real estate property located at 107 West Second St. in Cahokia, destroying vehicles and personal property of Greg Narez, and more," the complaint says.

In an effort to diffuse the threats, Narez claims he paid Narez several hundred dollars that evening.

In their 11-count suit, A-1 Satellite and Narez seek a judgment of more than $550,000, plus costs.

Narez will be appearing pro se.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-80.

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