Home Vehicle Accidents Hawthorne contractor claims bungled workers comp case cost it $30M

Hawthorne contractor claims bungled workers comp case cost it $30M

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A Hawthorne electrical contractor claims that a mishandled workers’ compensation claim has cost it $30 million.

Candela Systems Corp. accused Keevily Spero-Whitelaw Inc. insurance services of breach of contract, in a July 26 complaint filed in Westchester Supreme Court.

“But for the breach of the agreement between Candela and Keevily,” the complaint states, an employee’s injury claim “would have been disallowed by the Workers’ Compensation Board.”

Candela was founded in 1994 by James S. Bernardo and specializes in commercial and industrial lighting.

Keevily, of Harrison, has been in the insurance business since 1928, according to its website, and provides workers’ compensation services to more than 1,000 New York companies in the electrical services industry.

Candela says it hired Keevily to oversee workers compensation claims filed with its insurance carrier, the New York State Insurance Fund.

Specifically, Keevily was ensure that any information Candela provided would be sent to NYSIF, the complaint states, and ensure that NYSIF “handled the claim in the best interests of Candela.”

On Aug. 2, 2019, Candela employee Steven Nickerson was involved in a motor vehicle collision while driving a Candela vehicle.

Nickerson was driving a Ford van on a two-lane highway in Middleburgh, near Albany, and struck a Volvo tractor-trailer head-on.

Truck driver Anthony Miraglio was 100% disabled by his injuries, according to a pending 2020 lawsuit he filed against Nickerson and Candela in Rensselaer County.

Nickerson submitted a workers’ compensation claim to NYSIF, asserting that he was injured during the course of his employment with Candela.

Candela says the accident occurred 37 miles from where Nickerson was supposed to be working and he was not carrying out business for the company.

Keevily knew that the workers’ comp claim was meritless, the complaint states, but failed to make it clear to NYSIF, the company’s insurance carrier, that Candela was disputing the claim.

NYSIF in turn failed to submit documents to the state Workers’ Compensation Board disputing the claim, and the board awarded benefits to Nickerson.

The complaint does not say how much Nickerson was awarded. Rather, it details the consequences of the decision: increased insurance premiums and a change in the company’s workers’ comp rating that disqualifies Candela from submitting bids on almost 95% of its potential electrical contractual agreements.

“This inability to bid on these contracts, Candela’s attorney, Arnold E. DiJoseph III, argues, “has resulted in the loss of business and profits.”

Keevily did not respond to an email asking for its side of the story.

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