Owner indicted for negligent homicide in employee death

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Owner indicted for negligent homicide in employee death

Postby safety frog » Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:24 am

Owner indicted for negligent homicide in employee death
http://unionleader.com/article.aspx?art ... 907ee557b7


By JASON SCHREIBER
New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent


KINGSTON – The owner of a Kingston tree service company is facing charges for his alleged role in the death of a worker who was killed when a tree fell on him.

Maurice Buzzell, 52, of 5 Powwow River Road, was indicted by a Rockingham County Superior Court grand jury this month on one count of negligent homicide in the death of Jon Paul LaVigueur, also of Kingston.

LaVigueur, 22, was clearing trees with other workers at a job site in Kingston on Aug. 7, 2006, when he was pinned under a fallen pine tree.

Buzzell, who owns Buzzell Tree Service, has already agreed to pay more than $12,000 in federal fines after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration accused his company of workplace safety violations.

The indictment -- the first criminal action taken against Buzzell -- accuses him of requiring his employees, including LaVigueur, to "stand in front of trees that were being felled, hold onto a rope and pull the tree directly toward them, and maintain that position under the tree, until the tree began to fall." The alleged practice violates "any reasonable standards of the industry and ignored safe alternatives that were available," the indictment said.

Buzzell, who faces a second charge - reckless conduct - did not return a call seeking comment on the indictments.

"This was a very tragic event, and this particular case sends a message that even though it may appear on the surface to be accidental, it holds individuals criminally responsible for their actions," Kingston Police Chief Donald Briggs Jr. said yesterday.

Briggs said he couldn't comment further before the case heads to trial.

LaVigueur's family and friends, who called him JP, expressed outrage after the accident, saying he died a senseless death.

"Everybody agrees JP shouldn't be where he is," close friend Barbara Glynn of Kingston said yesterday. "Nothing is going to bring JP back, but somebody needs to be held responsible. He shouldn't have been put in the position he was put in." Glynn has been leading a fundraiser to help LaVigueur's family cover the cost of his funeral, headstone and other costs related to his death. The "Jon Paul LaVigueur Fund" has been set up at TD Banknorth.

It is unusual to see this pursued in NH
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Postby shawn_oneil » Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:57 pm

I was wondering if he was going to be charged when the accident initially happened. It was a situation that could have been easily prevented.
Shawn
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Postby curt » Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:10 pm

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Re: Owner indicted for negligent homicide in employee death

Postby curt » Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:09 am

Published: July 24, 2009 12:02 am

Tree service owner heads to trial for employee death
By James A. Kimble
jkimble@eagletribune.com

BRENTWOOD, N.H. — The trial for the owner of a tree removal business facing charges over the death of an employee on a work site is scheduled for October.

The defense for Maurice Buzzell, 53, may rely on an expert to discount the prosecution's theory that the business owner was responsible for the death of his worker, Jon Paul LaVigueur, according to court documents.

The 22-year-old was killed Aug. 7, 2007, while standing in front of a tree being felled by co-workers in a yard in Kingston.

Buzzell has already paid a $12,500 settlement with the Occupation Safety and Health Administration, which initially fined him $19,000, according to an OSHA spokesman.

A grand jury returned two indictments against Buzzell last June, which included the negligent homicide charge and a lesser felony charge of reckless conduct.

Prosecutors say Buzzell's work-site practices are what led to LaVigueur's death.

"In the course of running Buzzell Tree Service, he operated his business in violation of U.S. OSHA safety standards and required his employees, including Jon Paul LaVigueur, to stand in front of trees that were being felled, hold onto rope, and pull the tree directly toward them, and maintain that position under the tree, until the tree began to fall," the indictment says.

Each of the charges carries a potential punishment of 31/2 to 7 years in state prison.
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Kingston logger on trial for employee's death

Postby curt » Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:06 am

Published: February 04, 2010 02:56 am

Kingston logger on trial for employee's death
By Jarret Bencks
jbencks@eagletribune.com

BRENTWOOD — A trial is underway for a local logger charged in connection with the death of one of his employees.

Jon Paul "J.P." LaVigueur, 22, of Kingston was killed on Aug. 7, 2007, when a 78-foot pine tree he and a crew were cutting fell on him as he tried to scramble away. It was a day before his 23rd birthday.

Maurice Buzzell of East Kingston, the owner of the company LaVigueur worked for, is charged with negligent homicide and reckless conduct. Prosecutors allege Buzzell required his employees to stand in front of trees that were being felled, and required them to maintain that position until it began to fall.

Prosecutors called Kingston police Chief Donald Briggs and a Kingston police officer to the stand yesterday, and they described Buzzell as lacking remorse the day of LaVigueur's death.

"Buzzell had a demeanor of matter of fact," Briggs told the jury yesterday.

In initial interviews, Buzzell said he was not at the scene at the time of the incident, Briggs said.

"He said he was out getting lunch, and ordering a cake for the victim," Briggs said.

In a statement Buzzell later gave police, he said he was at the scene when the accident happened, standing near his truck on the road near the scene.

Kingston police Officer Michael Lepege recalled the day of the incident. Emergency crews tried to resuscitate LaVigueur at the scene, then took him to the hospital. Police soon started passing out statement forms and taking photos, Lepege said. The county attorney's office and state police were notified.

"It turned very quickly from medical call to crime scene," he said.

During testimony, Briggs recalled that Buzzell quickly pointed the blame for the incident on LaVigueur.

"He (Buzzell) said, 'He (LaVigueur) didn't follow what he should have done,'" Briggs said. "'As a result, it was his own fault.'"

Lepege said he saw Buzzell and his son moving chain saws from the scene. Rope had been removed from the felled tree when police began to investigate, Lepege said.

The trial continues today. Buzzell faces three-and-a-half to seven years in prison if convicted.
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Buzzell case goes to jury

Postby curt » Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:51 am

Published: February 09, 2010 01:23 am

Buzzell case goes to jury
By Jarret Bencks
jbencks@eagletribune.com

BRENTWOOD — A jury is deliberating the fate of an East Kingston logger who prosecutors say is responsible for the death of an employee struck by a falling tree.

Maurice Buzzell, a logger and arborist, faces a felony count of negligent homicide and a misdemeanor count of reckless conduct stemming from the death of Jon Paul "J.P." LaVigueur on Aug. 7, 2007.

LaVigueur, 22, of Kingston was killed when a 78-foot pine tree he and a crew were cutting fell on him as he tried to run and tripped. It was a day before his 23rd birthday.

During the weeklong trial, prosecutors alleged that Buzzell, owner of Buzzell Tree Service, regularly required his employees to remain under trees until they began to fall.

Members of the Kingston Police Department took the stand during the trial in Rockingham County Superior Court to testify that Buzzell told different stories when first questioned and then when he filled out a statement.

He originally told police Chief Donald Briggs that he was out ordering a birthday cake for the victim at the time of the accident. The written statement he gave said he was at the scene, according to testimony.

Prosecutors also argued that Buzzell did not properly train his employees.

Buzzell took the stand to defend his business practices. He told jurors he didn't always require his employees to stand within the fall zone of trees, only when it was the necessary way to get one to fall.

Buzzell has paid $12,500 as part of a settlement with the federal Occupation Safety and Health Administration, which initially fined him $19,000 for violating safety regulations.

If convicted of negligent homicide, Buzzell could face 31/2 to 7 years in prison.

The jury is to continue deliberations today.
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East Kingston man guilty of negligent homicide

Postby curt » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:18 am

Published: February 10, 2010 02:09 am

East Kingston man guilty of negligent homicide Tree company owner faces three to seven years in jail
By Jarret Bencks
jbencks@eagletribune.com

BRENTWOOD — A jury yesterday found Maurice Buzzell responsible for the death of an employee, who was killed by a falling tree while working for Buzzell's landscape company.

It took the jury two and a half days to return guilty verdicts on charges of negligent homicide and reckless conduct brought against Buzzell by county prosecutors. Buzzell is the owner of Buzzell Tree Service in East Kingston.

Jon Paul "J.P." LaVigueur of Kingston was killed on Aug. 7, 2007, when a 78-foot pine tree he and a crew were cutting at a Kingston home fell on him as he tried to flee. It was a day before his 23rd birthday.

His father, Paul LaVigueur, said he was pleased to hear the outcome of the trial yesterday.

"He (Buzzell) had to pay for this," LaVigueur said in a phone interview yesterday. "My son is dead."

LaVigueur said he believed "justice was served," but he would never get over the death of his son.

"For the rest of my life, I'll go to bed with tears in my eyes," he said. "I'll never get over it — never."

During the trial, county prosecutors Howard Helrich and Amy Connolly alleged that Buzzell regularly required his employees to remain under trees until they began to fall.

Buzzell first told police he wasn't at the scene when the accident happened, then said he was near his truck in the driveway when it occurred, according to testimony by Kingston police officers.

Buzzell paid $12,500 as part of a settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violating safety regulations as a result of the accident.

Buzzell's defense attorney, Steve Colella, argued that Buzzell did not require his employees to stand under trees as they were being felled, and that many of the standards Buzzell was allegedly in violation of had nothing to do with LaVigueur's death.

Buzzell now awaits sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled. The charge of negligent homicide could bring a sentence of three to seven years in prison. The reckless conduct charge is a misdemeanor.
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Buzzell given suspended sentence in Kingston worker's death

Postby curt » Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:11 am

Published: April 13, 2010 01:27 am

Buzzell given suspended sentence in Kingston worker's death

BRENTWOOD (AP) — The owner of a tree-cutting service found guilty of negligent homicide in the 2007 death of a worker from Kingston has received a suspended sentence.

Maurice Buzzell, 53, of East Kingston was found guilty by a jury in February in the death of 22-year-old Jon Paul LaVigueur.

Buzzell owns and operates Buzzell Tree Service. LaVigueur was killed when an 80-foot pine he was helping to pull down fell on him. Buzzell's lawyers argued during the trial that LaVigueur's death was an unfortunate accident.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported on its Web site last night that prosecutors argued for a 1- to 3-year prison term. The judge, however, acknowledged Buzzell's grief and remorse.
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