Court sides with injured migrant worker

The S.C. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a migrant worker who is injured in an accident at owner-supplied housing is entitled to compensation for injuries the worker suffers at that housing.

The unanimous decision involved a foreign worker, Frantz Pierre, who took a $6-an-hour job in 2003 with a 400-acre tomato farm in Beaufort County.

Pierre, who was in the U.S. legally and who was recruited to work picking tomatoes, slipped on a wet sidewalk and injured his ankle while at a camp his employee provided for the migrant workers.

Pierre hurt his ankle badly and filed a claim with the S.C. Workers' Compensation Board.

But his employer, Seaside Farms Inc., and its insurance company, American Home Assurance Insurance Co., argued Pierre should get no payment because, among other things, he wasn't required to live in the workers' camp.

The Supreme Court blasted the company's arguments.

"It is clear from the record that Pierre was required, not by contract, but by the nature of his employment, to live on-site near the packing facility as there was no reasonable alternative," the high court said.

And, the court found, it was the company's fault - because of a lack of drainage - that the sidewalk that Pierre slipped on was wet.