Paul Perrone with his sister
By Joseph Snook
Northern California – When one thinks of privately owned lumber companies, they tend to have mixed opinions. Some would say they clear-cut mother earth, thus creating pollution and other health hazards, while others would say they help provide food for many American families and plant just as many trees as they cut. Nevertheless, in Paul Perrone’s case, a much different fact is voiced – “my experience with a private lumber company has cost me everything.”
I’m sure most have played the card game referred to as “Go-Fish,” which is reportedly what Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) tells their employees when they need help.
I’m not here to tell about the 13 million dollars that SPI was ordered to pay the state of California last year for polluting the air and trying to cover it up by falsifying emissions reports, nor am I here to tell how SPI’s upper management reportedly discriminates against people of Middle Eastern decent. I am here to tell how one of the most hard working, proud Americans that I have interviewed to date, isn’t asking for his wife back, he doesn’t want money, he just wants his pain to go away.
Paul Perrone is not just your average guy, he is a man who raised 4 children as a sole provider and worked hard day and night, through pain and suffering and even with one arm at times. Paul Perrone stated, “I worked for over three weeks where I could not use my left arm because the pain was so bad from being hit by broken boards and logs from the head rig where I was the ‘off bearer’ at the saw mill. I was not allowed to fill out an injury report, so I went back to my main job at the plainer. I could not pull lumber off the ‘green chain’ so the boss had me out back feeding the plainer, which takes two hands and arms. After just minutes, I could only use my right arm. I did this for weeks because I didn’t want to get fired for something that wasn’t my fault – I had a wife and four children at home.
After being told I would be fired if I went to the doctor on company time, I decided that something had to be done about my pain. By this time the pain had got so bad that my wife had to help me do everything, even get dressed. I couldn’t take it anymore so I had a co-worker stop by my house so I could tell him to let the boss know that I would not be able to work because of my pain. After 3 or 4 days the co-worker stopped by my house to let me know that I was fired for not calling in. This was a hard thing to do, especially when I had taken the time to have a close friend tell my boss about my injury, which was already more than clear. You see, at that time there was no phone at the plainer mill, which made calling my boss even more difficult. I think I worked at SPI for over 10 years and only missed three days of work.”
Now, after much severe pain and many doctor visits, Paul had decided it was time to get a lawyer to handle this. Paul’s lawyer who is now deceased ended up successfully representing him at a worker’s compensation hearing with Administrative Law Judge Brophy presiding. Perrone’s lawyer Ben Leep sought to get Perrone a judgment for financial compensation and to help with the doctor bills; but how can you put a price on over 10 surgeries and medical coverage for the pain inflicted due to poor job management?
Paul had asked his lawyer to put down in writing that he was to have lifetime medical coverage with a doctor of his choice and that is just what Ben did. When the Attorney’s for SPI reviewed the paperwork, they had SPI sign the documents without question. What happened? Did one of SPI’s attorney’s forget to read? They just agreed to the very thing they didn’t want – Lifetime medical for Paul Perrone. Yes, Paul was awarded lifetime medical on May 13, 1987 and to make a long story short, SPI allegedly fired their attorneys that represented them on that day. Paul was finally starting to deal with his pain in a much more positive way.
After almost 20 years of medical coverage for SPI’s negligence and over 10 neck and back surgeries later, Paul was doing the best that he could with the poor “Go-Fish” cards that he had been dealt.
One afternoon Paul was doing some yard work when he was hit by a branch and he was off to see the doctor, again. The doctor checked him out and released him. Days after the visit with his doctor, Paul went to the pharmacy to get his regular prescription and was told by the pharmacist he had a bill to pay. Paul asked, “What are you talking about?” The pharmacist replied, “You need to look into this Paul, SPI has cancelled your coverage.”
After calling Barbara Zichichi who is SPI’s workers compensation adjuster he was informed that since a new injury had occurred, not related to SPI, his medical coverage was no longer available to him. After his many neck and back surgeries, a branch from the front yard had ruined what was left of Paul’s life … “Go-Fish.”
This reporter attempted to contact Sierra Pacific in regards to this issue and I have also left messages for Barbara Zichichi, but haven’t had the pleasure of a return phone call. I’m now starting to understand why Paul would wait at least 7 to 10 days without medication before Barbara would do her job. Fortunately for the US~Observer, we don’t need a prescription for severe pain.
Paul has some children who are just as loyal and hard working as he once was and hopefully one day they will be able to put this all behind them and spend quality time together. For Paul, it might be a little too late, but when I met with his son, I could see years of fight left in his eyes.
Paul Perrone currently has terminal cancer, which is rumored to have been caused by a solution that Sierra Pacific put into their large dipping tanks to keep lumber from bluing. I’ve been told by different sources that SPI never followed protocol when adding the solution to the tank. I’m also very concerned about the burning pain that occurred when the solution would get on many of their former employee’s limbs, reportedly causing – long term, significant pain and possibly cancer.
We hope that Sierra Pacific Industries will do what is right and attempt to repair a bridge rather than tear it down. But in case that is not their choice, SPI can look forward to more articles and more stories from other hard workers like Paul who have been told one to many times to … “Go-Fish!”
Editor’s Note: Mentioned in the article was a settlement by SPI to CA. Click here for that settlement on the California government web site. It is an example of SPI’s tendency to do things that are against the rules. Anyone with information regarding Sierra Pacific Industries, please contact Joseph Snook at: 916-342-0132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.