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Washington State Drywall Contractor Ordered to Pay Over $1 Million in Workers’ Comp Premiums and Penalties

A former drywall contractor in Walla Walla, Washington has been found liable for unpaid workers’ comp premiums, interest, and late fees totaling over one million dollars.  A Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigation determined that Shawn A. Campbell's company, E & E Acoustics, LLC, underreported the hours that its employees worked by failing to accurately report the size of the company's drywall jobs from April 2007 through June 2009.

Campbell owes L&I more than $615,000 in premiums, $102,000 in late penalties, and $296,000 in interest, totaling over $1,013,00.00.  The judgment is believed to be one of L&I's largest-ever holding an employer personally liable for his company's workers' comp premiums, interest and penalties.

Campbell has appealed the ruling to Walla Walla Superior Court.  The Washington Attorney General represented L&I in the case.  Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards, said:

“This is a particularly egregious case of an employer cheating the legitimate businesses and employees who fund the workers' comp system.  The board found that Mr. Campbell clearly knew what he was doing in his attempt to skip out on paying workers' comp premiums.”

In filings to the Secretary of State, Campbell sometimes listed his employees as co-owners in his company to avoid paying workers' comp premiums on them, the board decision said.  However, in 2011, he failed to list any company officers, prompting the Secretary of State to “administratively dissolve” the business.  L&I assessed Campbell and his spouse personally for the company's debts after it was no longer operating and the debts remained unpaid.

The board decision said Campbell's “failure to pay workers' compensation assessments was the result of an intentional, conscious and voluntary course of action, and thus was willful.”

The Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters played a major role in assisting L&I in the case.  Over several years, union representatives witnessed Campbell's employees working on jobsites in Central and Eastern Washington, and researched job bids and other public documents.  Ben Basom, the union's communications director, remarked:

“Mr. Campbell created an unfair advantage through unlawful practices which harm the state, and more importantly, honest tax-paying construction contractors who contribute to a successful economy.  We wish the E & E Acoustics case was an anomaly.  Unfortunately, there are other unscrupulous contractors operating in similar ways.”