The Jonesboro Sun has reported another legal problem for Rep. David Wallace, a Leachville Republican, who’s put more than $100,000 of his own money into a challenge of incumbent Democratic Sen. David Burnett of Osceola.
The Sun reported that Wallace’s company — Wallace, Rush, Schmidt Inc. — is a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit over a bus crash Aug. 18 near Baton Rouge. It was filed by a woman who had a child by one of three men killed in the crash. The wreck has generated heavy news coverage in Louisiana, though not so much in Arkansas. The front page story in the Sun, which covers the contested Senate district, arrives a little more than a week before election.
The suit claims that WRS chartered a bus through Kristina Transportation and hired the driver, who was unlicensed and his been charged with negligent homicide. The bus carried workers hoping to do flood cleanup for WRS. Many of them were undocumented, as was the driver. The lawyer for WRS said the driver was hired by the bus company and the workers — if they were undocumented — were not yet hired by WRS and would not have been hired had they not had proper papers.
Some aren’t accepting that version of events, including the mother of a local fire chief killed in the wreck. From the Sun:
“What kind of business does not take the time to look into the credentials and business practices before they contract work out on behalf of their company?” Donna Chauvin wrote in an e-mail to The Sun. “WRS and their owners need to be investigated, and I hope that the government agencies of Arkansas will take the time to look into their business practices.”
The article noted that WRS was sued last month for alleged violations of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act — refusal to pay for all hours worked, failure to pay premiums for overtime and failure to maintain adequate records. This pertained to cleanup work for a Louisiana school district.