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Former employee alleges termination over work comp claim

By Molly English-Bowers | Mar 18, 2016

BELLEVILLE – A former employee of Totall Metal Recycling claims he was terminated after filing a workers' compensation claim for sarcoidosis.

Rodrigo Ortiz filed the lawsuit March 7 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Totall Metal Recycling Inc. of St. Clair County.


Ortiz was employed by Totall Metal for more than 20 years until his discharge Feb. 1, the suit says. While on the job, Ortiz claims he sustained injury to his lungs due to the smoke, dust and fumes that he inhaled.

The complaint states he sought medical treatment and filed a claim under workers compensation. From Feb. 5, 2012, to the present, the plaintiff was treated by Dr. Eduardo Martinez, and was allegedly diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a disease caused by the inhalation of dust, smoke and fumes.


Martinez spoke with Totall Metal about implementing measures to maintain a safe work environment for the plaintiff, the suit says, but he claims his suggestions were ignored. 

Then on Feb. 1, the defendant terminated the plaintiff as part of a layoff. However, Ortiz says he was one of the longest serving employees and had the highest seniority, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges the termination would not have happened but for Ortiz's workers compensation claim. As a result of the defendant's alleged discrimination, the complaint says, the plaintiff lost wages and benefits, experienced pain and suffering and has been unable to secure employment or otherwise support his family through workers compensation benefits.

The lawsuit alleges the termination was done with fraud, actual malice and with such gross negligence as to indicate a willful and wanton disregard of the plaintiff's rights. 

Ortiz seeks more than $50,000, plus court costs. He is represented by attorney John H. Leskera of Leskera Law Firm in Collinsville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 16-L-128

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