Infamous contractor behind on bills, sued for not paying employees' medical premiums
BATON ROUGE - A contractor who made national headlines when he was arrested during his $15,000 vacation in Disney World for not complying with COVID-19 guidelines is facing litigation against for not paying employees' medical bills.
Joe Sauls is the latest employee of Coastal Bridge to claim Kelly Sills' did not pay his health insurance after deducting it from his paycheck. Sauls is now left with thousands of dollars in medical bills. Sauls had to have heart surgery in 2019, and learned after the procedure there was no health insurance.
"The difference in this suit, and I've researched several suits is about Coastal Bridge," Gregory Miller said. "Most are just against Coastal Bridge. Typically he doesn't have individual responsibility. The corporation does. But, under the law when you don't pay the Erisa plan benefits, he's personally liable."
Miller said in his 36 years practicing law, he's never seen anything like this.
"This is outrageous," Miller said.
Last month, the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed a similar situation with former Coastal Bridge employee Luis Nieves-Rivera. Nieves-Rivera was in a crash and needed to have his leg amputated. Following the surgery, he was told he had no health insurance even though Sills had deducted health insurance from his paychecks. Nieves-Rivera now has nearly $500,000 in medical bills.
In February, Sills was arrested in Disney World for not obeying COVID-19 guidelines. His arrogance on full display for Florida deputies.
"I paid $15,000," Sills told deputies. "You can't trespass and pay $15,000."
Many people are dumbfounded that he could owe so many entities money and take a trip like that. The WBRZ Investigative Unit also exposed that three months before the pandemic hit and our world shut down, Kelly Sills—the owner of Coastal Bridge—sent out an email to all employees saying the company was ceasing all operations because there was no more cash for payroll.
That's when former employees tell the WBRZ Investigative Unit that Sills laid off nearly 90 percent of the company. Three months later, Sills applied for the PPP money, and received $2.6 million in April of 2020, according to records we obtained.
Documents show that money help save 75 jobs. In February of this year, Sills received another $2 million dollars in PPP money to save 75 jobs.
Internal emails from Coastal Bridge show Sills wrote on Dec. 23, 2019, "Coastal bridge company will cease all operations until further notice there is no more cash for payroll and other expenses since nationwide blindsided us and unexpectedly defaulted company last week."
Questions are being raised about why Sills got the PPP money and whether the application he filed was a fraud. Sills has not answered our questions since the WBRZ Investigative Unit began exposing him and all the money he owes entities and people.
Attempts to get Sills to respond to this story were not successful. When we showed up at his office Thursday, a woman quickly walked to the back of the office and did not emerge when she noticed a television camera.
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