A company owned by Atlantic County Freeholder Director Frank Formica and managed by Freeholder James Bertino is being sued by two former employees who suffered serious injuries on the job that led to amputations.
Formica, a Republican who is running for re-election this year, said his Democratic opponents are using two tragic incidents as political fodder less than a month before the election.
The information was sent to The Press of Atlantic City as well as a comment from the Democratic challengers for seats on the freeholder board that was critical of Formica.
“My opponents don’t have a positive record to run on, all they have are baseless attacks that further undermine the public trust,” Formica said. “These attacks are made by people solely for political gain, not out of concern for the affected.”
The company, Baker Boys LLC, is located on Mill Road in Pleasantville.
The first incident occurred Nov. 30, 2015, when employee Francis Carpinelli was using a bread making machine that cuts dough into small, round shapes.
The machine did not come with a device to clean out the remnants of dough, so Carpinelli stuck his hand inside the machine to clean out the leftover dough and had it crushed, which led to the amputation of four fingers and part of his thumb, according to the lawsuit.
Carpinelli is being represented by Philadelphia-based attorney Larry Bendesky, who decline to comment.
The second incident occurred May 3, 2016.
Employee Dianna Trujillo, of Pleasantville, was in charge of removing dough from a mobile conveyor and putting it into pans.
The dough came out on two conveyors that were not attached to each other, according to the lawsuit.
The dough would sometimes fall between the two conveyors, which then required employees to reach underneath and catch it.
On May 3, 2016, Trujillo reached under the conveyor to grab dough that had fallen through and got her arm caught in a chain and sprocket.
As a result of the incident, her arm was amputated below her elbow, according to the lawsuit.
Trujillo claims the company is responsible because employees had previously complained about the conveyors not being connected.
Trujillo is being represented by Philadelphia-based attorney Susan Ayres, who declined to comment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration filed 18 violations against Baker Boys. However, most of them were downgraded and the fines reduced. Some of the violations included having extension cords in the bakery that were too long.
Formica said Thursday that Carpinelli came back to work at the bakery for a short time doing paperwork before leaving when he filed the lawsuit.
He also said Trujillo came back into the bakery and thanked her co-workers for saving her life.
Formica was not present at the time of either accident.
Atlantic County Democrats running for three freeholder seats — Celeste Fernandez, Maureen Leidy and Barbara Butterhof-Reault — criticized Formica and Bertino for the incidents.
However, neither man is being personally sued for wrongdoing in the suit.
“Employers have a duty and obligation to provide a safe work environment. Ultimately Mr. Formica and Jim Bertino, as plant manager, are responsible for ensuring worker safety — and in these two cases they failed,” the three candidates said in a statement. “The amputation of a limb isn’t something that a quick trip to UrgentCare or workman’s comp makes right. I hope that the injured receive restitution befitting the losses that they suffered.”
Formica said the three Democratic candidates are breaking a pledge to just run on the issues that affect Atlantic County.
“Our opponents stated that they were going to run a different kind of campaign based on change and issues,” Formica said.
“I am very disappointed that they have stooped into the cesspool of personal negative attacks.”