Ohio Employer Sent to Prison Because of Employee’s Death

construction workers and workers comp

In a tragic accident a few years ago in Akron, Ohio, a 39-year-old construction worker named Gerardo “Jerry” Juarez Sr. fell to his death while on the job. Juarez was working on the roof of a three-story apartment without proper safety equipment. When he fell from the roof, Juarez died upon impact.

The 2017 workplace accident brought to light some important points about workers compensation in Ohio. Because the owner of the construction company, 53-year-old James Coon, did not pay for coverage with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC), he was found negligent in court. BWC coverage is necessary for any employer to pay for — particularly those whose employees deal with dangerous conditions. Construction work is notoriously dangerous, particularly work atop any roof.

The accident happened on Juarez’s second day working for Coon’s company. In court, Judge Alison McCarty mentioned that two other similar accidents had happened to Coon’s employees over the course of twenty years. Employees had either fallen through or fallen off of roofs.

The Akron Beacon Journal covered the story, and reports that the Summit County court sentenced James Coon to three years in prison. Coon had pleaded guilty in September to workers’ compensation fraud and involuntary manslaughter.

Jerry Juarez’s widow, Mison Woo, gave a tearful statement to the press after Coon’s sentencing.

“He knew his responsibility,” said Woo, “and still neglected to follow those rules.”

Judge McCarty ordered Coon to pay $303,152 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. Coon’s three-year prison sentence begins immediately.