Effective Legal Representation May Save Time and Money

It is difficult to maneuver the roadways of legal defense without any help. Most attorneys would find it difficult to lay the foundation of a new building without any training. Similarly, it is difficult for persons not skilled in legal matters to respond to Discovery Requests, Interrogatories, and complex Motions. Attorneys and construction workers use different skills, knowledge, and even terminology on a day to day basis. It is challenging for people who are not trained in the law to defend themselves properly, and this task is best handled by those trained in this profession.

Case History And Background

The problems Northpac Corporation encountered with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an excellent example of how important it is to seek legal advice when faced with a legal problem. Northpac Corporation represented itself without the assistance of an attorney in a case decided before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (Commission) recently.  An OSHA inspector issued a Citation and Notification of Penalty on August 2018 alleging one serious  and two repeat violations with a proposed penalty of $12,197 for safety violations at one of Northpac's worksites in Saipan, North Mariana Islands. 

During the process, Northpac Corporation represented itself in the matter - pro se - in what the Commission termed was "contumacious conduct" by not providing responses or incomplete responses to all Discovery Requests and Interrogatories, as well as not communicating with the OSHA Secretary effectively. Numerous times, Northpac failed to respond to calls and requests for information through the discovery process even when threatened with sanctions. 

No Excuse For Pro Se Litigants

Northpac attributed its insufficient responses to the complexity of the Discovery Requests. The Commission however did not allow Northpac Corporation to use its lack of legal expertise or representation as an excuse for incomplete or sloppy responses to the Commission. Though the Occupational Safety Health Review Commission acknowledged the difficulties a litigant would encounter when representing itself, it stated the pro se litigant must make a good faith effort to follow the Commission rules and respond to Discovery Requests, even if the response is complex.

Representing Yourself Can Be A Costly Mistake

Northpac Corporation’s failure to comply with Commission Orders and Rules exacerbated its problems with the Occupational Safety Health Review Commission and OSHA. The Commission found that Northpac Corporation demonstrated disregard for Commission proceedings by failing to engage in the litigation process. In order for the Commission to carry out the duty to“conduct a fair and impartial hearing, to assure that the facts are fully elicited, to adjudicate all issues, and avoid delay,” the Commission was authorized to “[t]ake any other action necessary… and authorized by the published rules and regulations of the Commission.” This behavior with the court was critical because it allowed for the sanction of dismissal.

The Commission held that Northpac Corporation’s had sufficient notice of its procedural rights and was provided enough warning that its failure to comply with Commission orders would result in the dismissal of its Notice of Contest. Northpac Corporation was declared in default , the violations and penalties were affirmed in its entirety, and significant penalties assessed.

Let the Experts Solve Your Legal Matters

Hearing procedures like Discovery Requests and Interrogatories are essential to a fair and efficient resolution of all legal matters. It ensures all parties have the same information so arguments can be made, defended, and the most accurate decisions can be made. It is difficult to determine the reasons why Northpac Corporation decided to represent itself pro se, but their actions can serve as a learning experience for others. When encountering a citation from a government agency like OSHA or encountering complex legal matters, it is important not to cut corners. Seek legal help! Legal fees may seem expensive at first, but they are an investment. Northpac Corporation began this matter with a possible citation of just over $12,000 and resulted in the full amount of penalties assessed. If Northpac Corporation would have sought legal counsel, the matter could have resulted in lower penalty fees and better standing with both OSHA and the Commission It took over a year to resolve this matter and resulted in damaging its reputation in health and safety. Time is money, andNorthpac Corporation needlessly spent a great deal of this valuable resource that could have been less costly.

Trusting a firm to handle one’s legal affairs allows defendants to save time, money, and resources. Whitcomb, Selinksy Law P.C. handles a wide variety of legal matters that can help resolve your needs, allowing you to focus on what you do best. Please call (303) 534-1958 or complete an online contact form.


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