- EXCLUSIVE: Jeremy Baker compelled to pay for prosthesis and bills for victim
- Baker contends he had not employed the worker but was forced to pay anyway
A wealthy British broker ordered to pay compensation to a stablehand who was maimed at his polo club in Argentina has bemoaned the country’s ‘biased’ legal system.
Accused Jeremy Baker quit his job at investment banking giant Goldman Sachs in the early 2000s to start a new life in South America, opening up a hotel and polo centre in the town of Cañuelas near Buenos Aires.
But Mr Baker and his Argentinian wife Liliana Forrester were compelled by a labor court to pay for a prosthetic arm after a worker at his Puesto Viejo polo club suffered a horrendous injury.
Stablehand Nelson Bravo lost his arm feeding polo ponies when he was pulled into an unprotected oat loading pipeline in 2017. Doctors amputated what was left of the destroyed limb.
His lawyers had claimed that as the club owner, Mr Baker was responsible for his medical bills and for buying a state-of-the-art prosthetic arm.
Mr Baker meanwhile argued that Bravo was employed directly by polo players, not by his club, and refused to pay the bill even after labour court judges ruled his company was liable.
After years of legal battles, Mr Baker claims he has now paid the compensation – an undisclosed sum – but railed against a system he felt forced him to unfairly shell out for medical bills while the victim’s direct employers escaped culpability.
‘If you are accused of having an illicit labor relationship (an employee ‘working in black’ so to speak) you are presumed to be guilty, not innocent. The law is written and applied steeply biased toward the plaintiff and not the supposed employer.
‘Despite more than 10 witnesses declaring that he worked for the player and not the club, we were unable to avoid a sentence against us.’
Mr Baker’s lawyers insisted neither he nor his wife are guilty of any wrongdoing.
They told Argentine press that Bravo was working ‘in black’ at the time of the accident, meaning he was not covered by a medical insurance or social security policy and was not a registered worker.
They also claim that Bravo was a stablehand, or petisero, working for a pair of owners who stabled their ponies at the estate, and argued he was never employed directly by Baker.
Responding to a request for comment from MailOnline, a representative for Mr Baker said: ‘Mr Baker’s sympathies are naturally with Nelson Bravo and his family for this tragic accident.
Mr Baker’s lawyers told local media: ‘Everything possible was always done to assist (Bravo), both at the beginning and after the accident.’
‘Each polo player in Argentina has their own petisero. (Bravo) was an employee of Manuel and Fredy Palomba.
‘On the day of the accident, he was taking care of petisero tasks for them, who were never present to assist their employee.‘
However, although Bravo was not registered, judges found that there was still proof of an employment link between Mr Baker’s companies and Bravo, and therefore ruled Ancien Poste SA and London & Baires SRL were liable to pay.
‘However, Mr Bravo is not and has never been an employee at the club. Despite this 100% of the compensation ordered by the court has been paid in full.’