COMPLAINT

February 4, 2023

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE WESTERN  DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA  

 

ANGEL LAUZARA,

                                  Plaintiff

    vs.  

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION; STEVEN GROMAN; RYAN RUDZKI; 

                                Defendants

Case No. ______________Honorable: _____________

 

COMPLAINT

  1. COMES NOW Plaintiff ANGEL LAUZARA, with this complaint against the Defendants OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION; STEVEN GROMAN; and RYAN RUDZKI, as follows:  

PARTIES

  1. Complainant, ANGEL LAUZARA, is an individual of address 114 Venango Street Johnstown, PA 15905.
  2. Defendant OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION (“OSHA”) of address Philadelphia Regional Office 1835 Market Street Mailstop OSHA-RO/19 Philadelphia, PA 19103-2968, is a regulatory agency of the United States Department of Labor. 
  3. Defendant, STEVEN GROMAN is is an individual of address [ENTER ADDRESS]. Defendant, upon Plaintiff’s knowledge, information and belief, is/was an inspector at the OSHA, Philadelphia Regional Office. 
  4. Defendant RYAN RUDZUKI is an individual of address [ENTER ADDRESS]. Defendant, upon Plaintiff’s knowledge, information and belief, is/was Defendant Steven Groman’s supervisor at the OHCA, Philadelphia Regional Office.  

JURISDICITON AND VENUE

  1. This court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C § 1331 since it involves the violations of federal law. 
  2. Venue is proper in this district under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 as Plaintiff and/or Defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction in this state. Plaintiff and/or Defendants live, operate, and carry out business within the jurisdiction of this Court. Besides, a substantial part of the acts and omissions forming the basis of these claims occurred in this District and arose from the actions or inactions of the Defendants. 

FACTS

  1. Plaintiff was an employee of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Inc. (“SGRE”).
  2. On or about [ENTER DATE OF TERMINATION], Plaintiff’s employment terminated when he raised concerns about safety and health issues at SGRE. Notably, Plaintiff observed that elevators that were used by technicians in some of the windmill towers were not safe for use. A service note from the manufacturer stated that failure cannot be guaranteed in real world conditions.
  3. SGRE retaliated against Plaintiff using a drug and alcohol policy that required a blanket testing of the staff in the case of any accident, regardless if there was a suspicion of drug use. 
  4. On the winter of 2019, Plaintiff lost control due to black ice, while driving on the highway. He was therefore not required to perform the test. Besides, the police report showed that the fault was due to the other driver. 
  5. That notwithstanding, Plaintiff was subjected to the drug test, 17 hours after the accident occurred, contrary to SGRE’s policy. Besides, SGRE relied on a broken chain of custody to find that Plaintiff had 700 units of marijuana metabolites. 
  6. Besides, SGRE did not prevent Plaintiff from continuing to drive despite their policy which provides thus: “do not allow an employee subject to reasonable suspicion of post-accident testing to drive”.   
  7. Later on, Plaintiff was informed by Mr. Michael Christman, District Manager at SGRE, in a meeting with regional managers that SGRE had a new drug and alcohol policy that had been approved and would be released a month later. About a month and a half later, Plaintiff’s employment was terminated. 
  8. On or about July 17, 2020, Plaintiff filed a Complaint through the OSHA.gov webpage against his employer alleging retaliation against him/her after Plaintiff found health and safety issues, which the employer had failed to respond to for 407 days. 
  9. By August 14, 2020, Plaintiff had not received any communication from OSHA. Plaintiff therefore called the Pittsburgh office to seek for an update of the case. Plaintiff was informed that his Complaint was not in the system. Accordingly, Plaintiff had to submit the Complaint again. 
  10. On or about September 19, 2020, Groman tried interviewing Plaintiff. However, the interview could not proceed since Groman claimed that he could not get Plaintiff. Consequently, Groman asked Plaintiff to record a statement, which Plaintiff sent. 
  11. Consequently, Groman and Plaintiff had interviews consecutively on September 23, 24 and 25. In the said interview, Groman was dismissive of Plaintiff’s allegations. He cut Plaintiff short as he/she was explaining his case. For instance, he stated that he did not want to hear anything “that happened on another country or dates more than two years”. It is worth noting that Plaintiff needed to provide a background to his allegations, so that he would be able to establish his case.  
  12. It is worth noting in the aforesaid interviews, Groman kept focusing on the fraud claim and not the Section 11(c) that Plaintiff had. Later on, Plaintiff figured out that Groman had a specialty in fraud matters and not on Section 11(c) matters. On or about September 24, Plaintiff had another phone call with Groman, who kept avoiding the Section 11(c) issues that Plaintiff was raising. Groman ended up hanging the phone on Plaintiff.  On or about September 25, Plaintiff had another phone call with Groman, who rejected Plaintiff’s claim(s) and gave him a right of appeal within 15 days. Further, Groman informed Plaintiff that a formal letter of rejection would be sent to him. 
  13. Groman took a long time to mail the letter of rejection. One day, Plaintiff found the letter on his door, which letter was dated January 28, meaning that his right of appeal was lost. 
  14. Plaintiff’s next recourse was to file a FOIA request on two grounds namely: that Plaintiff needed more information from her case, to pursue legal action; and the letters must be sent with proof of delivery confirmation, pursuant to the Whistleblower manual. 
  15. Plaintiff found out that:
  1. Groman had searched, and instructed everyone to search, for Plaintiff’s initial complaint dated July 14, instead of July 17, when the Complaint was made; 
  2. Groman failed to mention the broken chain of custody. He only reported that “He was terminated for failing a drug test”, despite knowing about the company’s violation; 
  3. The recordings of the interview showed how Groman unprofessionally conducted the interview with Plaintiff; 
  4. While the document was sent with proof of delivery confirmation, the ‘UPS’ driver wrote “left in the front door”. No one checked if the signature was effectively provided, which it did not. The courier tracking emails were never sent to Plaintiff either. Therefore, Plaintiff could not know if/ when it was sent or not.
  5. Since Groman did not take any notes, there was no information whatsoever in any of the safety or fraud issues, other than the statement taken on September 20. 
  1. On or about July 7, 2021, Plaintiff again called OSHA to see whether the initial complaint can be retrieved. Coincidentally, Groman picked the phone and immediately recognized Plaintiff. Groman informed Plaintiff that her Section 11(c) could not be investigated because they were rejected. 
  2.  Plaintiff raised concerns why his claims were rejected. Plaintiff also communicated with Groman’s boss (Rudzuki), who ended up siding with the Groman. On the following day, Brian, allegedly Groman’s co-worker, called Plaintiff requesting his details afresh, so they could look up Plaintiff’s case, a year later. 
  3. OSHA then sent a letter to Plaintiff’s employer stating that Plaintiff lacked sufficient evidence to find the employer liable. 
  4. Plaintiff’s employer sent Plaintiff a letter titled “Satisfactory Response”.
  5. Plaintiff responded with a 200-page document specifying all safety violations of his employer; and another letter where Plaintiff clarified that he made the initial complaint on July 17, 2020.
  6. Consequently, Plaintiff called other entities, including the OSHA Pittsburgh’s office, the WPP office in Philadelphia and Washington, and the Solicitor’s office. Plaintiff was only advised to submit his case to the office of the Secretary of Labor. 

CLAIMS FOR RELIEF

COUNT 1

GROSS NEGLIGENCE

(Against Defendants Steven Groman and Ryan Rudzuki)

  1. Plaintiff repeats and realleges the allegations contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as though said paragraphs were fully set forth herein.
  2. The said Defendants had a Statutory duty to ensure Plaintiff gets justice for his retaliation claims. Rudzuki also had a duty to conduct proper supervision and review of Groman’s work.
  3. Defendants were aware that breach of the said duties would subject Plaintiff to harm and/or loss. 
  4. Groman negligently provided a wrong date when instructing the staff to search for Plaintiff’s complaint. He stated July 14, instead of July 17. 
  5. Groman also failed to provide a report of concise facts of what exactly happened. He only stated: “He was terminated for failing a drug test”, leaving out pertinent information on Plaintiff’s case. 
  6. Groman conducted the interview unprofessionally. He kept interrupting Plaintiff and focused on the fraud claims alone. He ended up barring Plaintiff from stating all her allegations. 
  7. Groman negligently failed to appreciate Plaintiff’s Section 11(c) allegations. He knew he had no specialization in Section 11(c) matters, yet proceeded to reject Plaintiff’s claims. Besides, he negligently referred to his previous duty as a State Trooper in total disregard of Plaintiff, who had been subjected to a drug test and had been charged with drug consumption. 
  8. Groman also negligently proposed to Plaintiff that he withdraws his fraud claims and be left with the Section 11(c) claims. 
  9. Rudzuki assigned Plaintiff’s case without considering the nature of Plaintiff’s claims, and the expertise of Groman. Besides, Rudzuki failed to conduct a proper follow up on the erroneous statement of the date of Plaintiff’s initial Complaint. Rudzuki also failed to properly supervise Groman to ensure Groman conducted a proper investigation of Plaintiff’s claims. 
  10. As a result of Defendants’ actions and/or inactions as alleged herein, Plaintiff was denied access to justice when his Complaint was rejected. 

COUNT 2

VIOLATION OF PLAINTIFF’S 14TH AMENDMENT DUE PROCESS RIGHTS

(Against Defendants Steven Groman and Ryan Rudzuki)

  1. Plaintiff repeats and realleges the allegations contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as though said paragraphs were fully set forth herein.
  2. Due process requires that a person (1) receive notice of the nature of the proceeding (2) and a meaningful opportunity to be heard (3) before an impartial fact-finder (4) and with a written statement of findings.
  3. The opportunity to be heard must be at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.
  4. Groman violated Plaintiff’s due process rights when he failed to give Plaintiff time to explain her allegations. Notably, Groman cut Plaintiff short, and expressly barred Plaintiff from giving a background to her claims. 
  5. Groman also violated Plaintiff’s due process rights when he misstated the date for Plaintiff’s initial Complaint, which misstatement caused Plaintiff’s case to be delayed, and to be rejected ultimately.
  6. Rudzuki failed to properly supervise Groman to ensure he performed his services in a professional manner.
  7. As a result of Defendants’ actions and/or inactions as alleged herein, Plaintiff’s due process rights were violated. Also, Plaintiff’s Complaint was rejected. 

COUNT 3

NEGLIGENCE

(Against Defendants Steven Groman and Ryan Rudzuki)

  1. Plaintiff repeats and realleges the allegations contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as though said paragraphs were fully set forth herein.
  2. The said Defendants had a Statutory duty to ensure Plaintiff gets justice for his retaliation claims. Rudzuki also had a duty to conduct proper supervision and review of Groman’s work.
  3. Groman breached the said duty by misstating the date for Plaintiff’s initial Complaint; by failing to give Plaintiff ample time to explain her claims; by rejecting Plaintiff’s claims without giving Plaintiff proper and fair hearing. 
  4. Rudzuki also breached the said duty by failing to conduct proper supervision and review of Groman’s work. 
  5. As a result of Defendants’ actions and/or inactions as alleged herein, Plaintiff’s due process rights were violated. Also, Plaintiff’s Complaint was rejected. 
  6. Plaintiff repeats and realleges the allegations contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as though said paragraphs were fully set forth herein.
  7. As a result of Defendants’ actions and/or inactions as alleged herein, Plaintiff’s due process rights were violated. Also, Plaintiff’s Complaint was rejected. 

 

COUNT 4

INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

  1. Plaintiff repeats and realleges the allegations contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as though said paragraphs were fully set forth herein.
  2. The acts and conducts of the Defendants were extreme and outrageous. The Defendants intended to cause, or were in reckless disregard of the probability that their actions and/or inactions would cause, emotional distress to Plaintiff. 
  3. The said actions and/or inactions did directly and proximately cause severe emotional distress to Plaintiff, and thereby constituted intentional infliction of emotional distress. 
  4. The actions and/or inactions described in this Count were undertaken with willfulness and reckless indifference to the rights of others. 
  5. As a proximate result of Defendants wrongful acts and/or omissions, Plaintiff suffered damages, including emotional distress and anguish.

COUNT 5

VICARIOUS LIABILITY

(Against OSHA)

  1. Plaintiff repeats and realleges the allegations contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as though said paragraphs were fully set forth herein.
  2. The said Defendant is the employer of the other two Defendants herein. 
  3. Accordingly, the said Defendant is liable for all the other two Defendants’ allegations under the doctrine of respondeat superior (Vicarious Liability).  
  4. As a proximate result of Defendants wrongful acts and/or omissions, Plaintiff suffered damages, including emotional distress and anguish.

 

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff is entitled to damages from the Defendants, and he hereby prays that judgment be entered in his favor and against the Defendant as follows:

Complainant seeks the following remedies:

  1. That the Court orders compensatory damages in an amount to be determined by the court, for the Defendants actions and/or inactions. 
  2. That the Court orders punitive damages against Defendants for their injurious and malicious actions against the Plaintiff. 
  3. That the Court orders a fresh hearing of Plaintiff’s claims against SGRE. 
  4. That the Court orders reimbursed court costs, maximum pre and post judgment interest.
  5. That the Court issues any other order that this institution deems just. 

 

Respectfully submitted:

 

 

Dated: __________

 

CERTIFICATE OF MAILING

I, [ENTER NAME], certified on this ______day of ________ 2021, I deposited a true copy of the above to the Defendants by placing the documents with prepaid postage in the United States mailbox address.

 

[ENTER ADDRESSES OF ALL DEFENDANTS]

 

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