From DenverPost.com, Felisa Cardona, 29 Apr 2011.
A third Peruvian shepherd claiming severe abuse at the hands of a Colorado rancher filed a federal lawsuit Thursday in Denver.
Jhosemar Samaniego Fernandez sued John Peroulis & Sons Sheep Inc., Louis Peroulis and Stanley Peroulis alleging that he was starved and denied medical care for a work injury and that his immigration documents were taken from him.
The Peroulises were sued last year by two other Peruvian immigrants who arrived at the ranch in Craig as part of the federal H-2A visa program covering temporary agricultural work.
A federal judge has stayed last year’s civil lawsuits at the request of federal prosecutors, who are in the midst of a criminal investigation into human trafficking at the ranch.
The suits were filed by attorneys at Colorado Legal Services’ migrant-farmworker division.
The Peroulises did not return a call seeking comment on Thursday’s lawsuit.
Fernandez, 24, says he escaped from the ranch in September without his immigration documents because he feared for his safety. “On numerous occasions, defendants Stanley and Louis Peroulis exhibited physically aggressive and intimidating behavior, such as kicking automobiles and animals, repeatedly placing plaintiff in fear for his safety,” the lawsuit says.
On Aug. 22, Fernandez said, while hammering a nail into a horse’s hoof, the horse kicked and drove the nail into his index finger. When he tried to get help, the Peroulises ignored him but eventually provided bandages and pills, the suit claims. “When plaintiff requested to see a doctor, defendant Stanley Peroulis informed him that it would not be possible because it was ‘too expensive,’ ” the lawsuit says.
Ten years ago, the U.S. Department of Labor sued the Peroulis ranch, alleging worker abuse. The case was settled.