NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (CN) – A man claims the owners of a Nebraska fast-food joint, Taco Town, exploited his mentally disabled brother by making him work 80 hours a week for 16 years, while taking his money and making him live like an animal without heat, water or electricity.
The complaint says the defendants “stole all of [his] wages and retirement benefits,” and made him live in “squalid housing for which they repeatedly failed to pay utilities, causing Junior to have to live without heat, water and electricity.”
John Sandoval sued on behalf of his brother, Florentino “Junior” Sandoval.
He claims that defendants Larry and Rosemarie Ross, “acting as Junior’s caretakers and employers … took direct advantage of his disabilities for their own gain.”
In his federal complaint, Sandoval claims that “the Rosses treated ‘Junior’ Sandoval as if he were just a piece of equipment that came with the restaurant” and “ordered him to sign his paychecks over to them.”
Sandoval adds: “in early 2010 the Rosses gave Junior an allowance of $20/week” and allowed him to “have one meal per day while working at Taco Town.”
Over time, Junior’s nutritional deficiencies manifested themselves in the form of disease and deformity, his brother says.
“(B)ecause his dietary intake was fundamentally limited to one meal per day at a fast-food Mexican restaurant, Junior developed diabetes, which was uncontrolled for over sixteen years and for which the Rosses never sought medical attention,” the complaint states.
His brother adds that Junior was never given the opportunity to have proper dental care and as a result has no teeth.
The brother says Junior lived in a small house owned by the Rosses, next to their own house, and that because “the Rosses failed to pay the utilities for the house and the utilities were terminated,” Junior lived for a while without electricity, water or heat.
The brother adds that the Rosses “routinely threatened Junior with harm,” and says that Larry Ross “was observed to slam Junior against the wall in Taco Town, threw food at him and pushed him around. Routinely Rosses belittled and berated Junior, calling him ‘retarded’ and telling him he would never be able to work anywhere else due to his disabilities.”
John Sandoval says he and his brother grew up in foster homes, with little contact with one another. He says he reconnected with his brother after moving back to Scottsbluff, and “gradually became aware of the conditions under which Rosses forced Junior to work and live.”
He says that when he and his wife “intervened in January 2010, Rosses fired Junior.”
John Sandoval says the Rosses and Taco Town abused his brother from 1994 until 2010. He demands damages for his brother for labor violations, conversion, neglect, abuse and exploitation of a vulnerable person, tortious spoliation of evidence, and “pain, humiliation and suffering.”
The brothers are represented by Maren Lynn Chaloupka of Scottsbluff.