Workers’ Comp Claims Violations Cited: Court Asked to Enjoin Ingersoll-Rand From Doing Business in W.Va.

January 13, 2006

West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jane L. Cline has asked a Kanawha County Circuit Court to enjoin Ingersoll-Rand of Montvale, N.J. from doing business in the state because it owes the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission $9,874.76. According to the petition, Ingersoll-Rand received a default notice in 2001, three in 2002, two in 2003, two in 2004, and two last year.

Ingersoll-Rand takes in about $10 billion a year in revenue, but it could forfeit the privilege of doing business in West Virginia over the alleged debt.

An Insurance Commission spokesperson told the West Virginia Record, although the Workers’ Compensation Commission shut down Dec. 31, that did not grant a free pass to employers who defaulted on its premiums. In fact, the troubles of those employers have increased.

Due to their defaults, these employers do not qualify for workers compensation coverage through BrickStreet, a private company that the legislature created with a 30-month monopoly on workers’ comp in West Virginia.

With nowhere else to turn for coverage, owners and officers of these businesses have assumed personal responsibility for injuries to their workers.

That won’t matter for long if Cline has her way.

In December, attorney David Ansell of Cline’s Revenue Recovery Unit petitioned the Kanawha County court to enjoin 97 employers from doing business in the state until they report all wages and pay what they owe.

Cline’s head legal counsel, Mary Jane Pickens, said in a Jan. 11 interview with the West Virginia Record, that Cline soon would send another batch of petitions to the county courthouse.

Ingersoll-Rand, the only industrial giant in the December group, makes air compressors and equipment used in West Virginia for mining and construction. It employs about 46,000 persons. The company allegedly failed to pay its last three quarterly premiums on time, failed to file its last three payroll reports on time, and failed to pay penalties and interest.

Ansell wrote that Ingersoll-Rand’s conduct continues to cause irreparable harm to the state. All the petitions that the West Virginia Record reviewed made that charge.

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