Shawn Purvis listens to his attorney, Tom Hallett, during a bail hearing in February 2020 at the Cumberland County Courthouse. The Saco-based home improvement contractor is facing new allegations that he refused to provide required workers’ compensation coverage. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Home improvement contractor Shawn Purvis was back before a judge Wednesday, this time answering Maine Workers’ Compensation Board charges that he failed to provide required coverage to employees.

Purvis, who lives in Scarborough, was found not guilty in 2021 of workplace manslaughter after his half-brother died from injuries received in a three-story fall at a Portland job site where the Purvis Home Improvement Co. was repairing a roof. The company is based in Saco.

Last year, a federal administrative judge affirmed that Purvis owed $1.6 million in penalties based on safety citations brought against him by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration following the worker’s death and a subsequent investigation.

Wednesday’s hearing on state charges was before Administrative Law Judge J. Michael Stovall in Portland and was expected to continue Thursday.

“The board is intending to prove that he had employees for whom he didn’t provide workers’ compensation coverage and is subject to penalty,” said John Rohde, executive director of the state workers’ compensation board.

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that employers provide for employees in case they are injured on the job. Benefits include weekly pay for lost time and payment for medical bills, prescriptions, vocational rehabilitation and loss of life or body parts.


Tom Hallett, Purvis’ attorney, declined a request for an interview or written comment.

A crucial piece of Purvis’ defense in his manslaughter trial was that the people he hires for jobs are independent contractors, not his employees. Purvis argued that as self-employed subcontractors, they are responsible for deciding whether to follow safety standards with equipment he provides.

Under state law, anyone who performs a service for payment is presumed to be an employee, Rohde said. Documents related to the board’s case were unavailable during the hearing, he said.

Maine workers’ compensation law provides for a maximum penalty of $10,000 per case or an amount equal to 108% of the premium that should have been paid, whichever is larger, Rohde said.

Other potential sanctions include loss of corporate status and referral to the state attorney general for criminal prosecution. Penalties assessed are paid to the board’s Employment Rehabilitation Fund.

How soon the judge will issue a decision, including the penalty amount, will depend on whether there are post-hearing motions, arguments and other factors, Rohde said.


In December 2018, Alan Loignon died after falling from the third-story roof of a Munjoy Hill building where Purvis’ company was repairing a roof. OSHA found that Loignon, Purvis’ half-brother, was not wearing a federally required safety harness. Purvis was charged with workplace manslaughter; a jury ultimately found him not guilty.

Investigators responded to two more complaints, later that month and in May 2019, to discover that roofers at Purvis’ job sites in Old Orchard Beach and Springvale also were not wearing fall protection gear. Purvis had been cited previously for violating safety standards for fall protection.

OSHA cited Purvis Home Improvement for a total of 20 safety violations. Judge Carol A. Baumerich with OSHA’s review commission ruled that OSHA had rightfully cited Purvis, although she decreased the total of the civil fines against him from $1.8 million to $1.6 million.

Purvis maintained that Baumerich’s ruling and OSHA’s investigations were “not based on facts.”

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