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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

BREAKING: Bell Sued By Longtime Employee



West Anchorage State Senate Candidate Bob Bell (R), who is running against incumbent Hollis French (D), is being sued by a former employee of his engineering firm F.R. Bell & Associates, Inc.  Edward Biggs of Wasilla is seeking restitution for discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Alaska Workers’ Compansation Act; interference with his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act; disability discrimination; breach of contract, destruction of evidence, and wrongful retaliatory discharge.

Bell was recently fined by the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) for campaign disclosure violations relating to F.R. Bell and Associates. The campaign revelations also came on the heels of the discovery that Bell participated in an incident involving the intimidation of an Alaska Department of Fish & Game employee while he and others attempted to illegally retain trophy horns from a “subsistence” musk ox hunt in Northwest Alaska. Bell was on the Board of Game at the time.

The man who filed charges Thursday, Edward Biggs, began his employment with Bell in 1991, and worked his way up to supervising work crews on the North Slope and elsewhere. He traveled internationally for the company and was called to work about nine months out of the year. Nobody ever complained about his work, he was always one of the first to be called in, and was one of Bell’s most senior employees.

Then, it all started to get hinky.

According to charging documents filed by Mr. Biggs, he injured his knee when he got stuck in a mud bog at Point Thompson in September of 2010. A couple weeks went by and told his boss, Jeff Cotton, that his knee was killing him and he needed to go see a doctor. Cotton told Biggs there was just too much work to do, and denied his request to leave for medical assistance.

Then, to make matters worse, Biggs stepped into a giant hole, aggravating the injury, and finally got a doctor’s appointment scheduled for January 5, 2011.  Biggs, in preparation for the doctor’s visit, called the company and asked for his workers’ comp number. Corporate Secretary Kathleen Stone told him to use his own private insurance to pay for the visit. So Biggs ended up incurring a deductible of $2500 plus charges for 20% of the medical bills he would incur.

At the end of the month, Biggs tried again to get his worker’s comp number, and was told that Cotton had not reported any injury. After explaining he’d need time off for surgery, he filled out the proper paperwork and turned it in to Stone on February 1, 2011. She post-dated the claim for the following day, February 2.

So, even though Stone had notice from Biggs in early January of the problem, nothing was filed by Bell & Assoc. until a month later.

Bob Bell himself is named in the complaint, and is alleged to have personally investigated Biggs’ injury on the job, contacting his North Slope project managers, and managers at BP and Exxon to verify his injury.

As if this isn’t all bad enough, management allegedly pressured Biggs to change the location of his workplace injury to the company’s Wasilla location to protect the safety records of the Pt. Thompson project, and at least one North Slope producer.

It was after this, Biggs claims, that he began to get the runaround. His supervisor started saying work was slow, and something would come up, which never did. Then when rumors of legal action surfaced, Biggs was told that nothing would be done to return him to work “until the Workers’ Compensation case was settled.”

Biggs ended up with a clean bill of health from his doctor, but filed for unemployment in May after being dismissed. Bell & Co. told the Department of Labor Biggs had quit voluntarily, delaying his benefits. After being mysteriously unable to find comparable work in Alaska, after 15 months, Biggs was forced to leave Alaska and find work in Canada. An employee of Bell’s firm admitted that Biggs had been “blackballed” by the Defendant from working elsewhere in the state because of his workplace injury claim.

Biggs attempted to obtain notes relating to the case from Bell’s firm during the process, and is also alleging that notes which are directly relevant to the case have been destroyed, and that the company “caused or allowed the evidence to be destroyed over the wishes of the Plaintiff.”

The conduct of Bell’s firm was described in charging documents as “outrageous, and was intentionally undertaken in reckless disregard of [Mr. Biggs’] health and property. Biggs is now holding Bell to account for wrongful discharge, breach of contract, lost earnings, wages and benefits, other economic losses, and emotional distress, and for actual, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney’s fees in an amount to be determined at trial.

You’ve got to wonder, if this is how Bob Bell treats one of his most loyal and best-performing employees, how is he planning to treat his constituents in Juneau whom he’s never even met?

You can read the charging document HERE.



13 Responses to “BREAKING: Bell Sued By Longtime Employee”
  1. Roger says:

    Bob Bell did survey work for the oil patch in the later 70s and the early 80s. He was caught falsifying their work log hours. If I remember right, it was in the paper for a day then it was hushed up.

    I heard the MOA basically blackballed him after he tried to fix a survey contract with his former employee as Municipal Surveyor. When he heard he lost the bid for the work he went screaming into DPW on Tudor Road.

    He’s not to be trusted by anyone. He’s gonna do what is good for him only.

    He is consistent tho Ha!.


  2. turbo says:

    It is big money up there at Point Thompson. Huge money.. Bell’s company is nicely positioned to be getting a nice slice of the pie on a series of enormous projects at Point Thompson and Prudhoe.
    I feel for Mr. Biggs. A knee injury is a painful aggravating injury that in order to heal requires care. His escalated into a financial nightmare of the worst kind.

  3. The Lawman says:

    Wonder what will happen when the State of Alaska is sued? All those penalties and fees? $4.9 trillion dollars…

  4. hedgewytch says:

    My husband was treated the exact same way by an Alaskan Corporation – I’ll be nice and not name names, even though the exact same “managers” are running the show there. After taking the Corp. to court for unlawful discharge and defamation of character, the Corp. representatives didn’t even bother to show up for the case. The Judge gave all to my husband. But they are still operating the same way even 15 years later. Lesson learned- IF you have your papers and ducks all in a row, you can prevail in the court – but more than likely nothing inherent will change in the way big business works with its employees.

  5. tallimat says:

    Hollis French

    Bob Bell has issues.

  6. Mo says:

    Well, good thing Bob Bell and his firm collected all that money from BP, eh?

  7. UgaVic says:

    If Mr Biggs is found to be telling the truth, which it sure seems he is, and anything but a major smack from the court system to FR Bell & Assoc will go on to confirm what the SP loser said about how Alasks is ’employer friendly’ citing worker comp laws and pay outs as examples.

    We do need Mr Hollis French back in Juneau and I hope those who can vote this into being, do so in a resounding way!!

  8. slipstream says:

    And that’s why we call him Bob “the law doesn’t apply to me” Bell.

  9. Zyxomma says:

    West Anchorage, re-elect Hollis French. Bob Bell is, quite frankly, a nogoodnik, and you don’t need a sneaky, lying creep like that making decisions for you and your families.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      All of Alaska needs Hollis French to come back to work for his district AND the rest of us.

      If this suit holds up, it paints Mr Bell and his company in decidedly raunchy colors.
      Worse than raunchy really.
      Kind of tipped over, leaking septic tank pumper colors …

  10. John says:

    And the employee has one of the best employment law lawyers in town!!

  11. John says:

    Language in legal complaints always involves a bit of puffery, but the bottom line is (if the worker is telling the truth) that Bob Bell and his company did their best to ignore and avoid the worker comp laws. Something Bob Bell would help be in charge of if elected. They then punished the worker for asserting his legal rights. Bob Bell seems to think that laws are for the “little people” to obey, and that he has special rights.

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