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Posted at 5:17 PM – Updated at 6:00 PM

Shawn Purvis’ court appearance on Monday revealed the simmering emotions that have existed in the almost three years since Alan Loignon, Purvis’ half brother, died after falling from a roof in Portland.

On Monday, a Scarborough roofing contractor appeared in court for a bond breach, only two weeks before he goes on trial for manslaughter in the death of a worker in 2018.

In April 2019, a grand jury indicted Shawn Purvis on one count of manslaughter and another of workplace manslaughter, a seldom utilized statute. Purvis pled not guilty the following month and has been released on bond under specific conditions.

The hearing at the Cumberland County Courthouse gave a glimpse into the simmering tensions that had existed for over three years since Alan Loignon, Purvis’ half brother, died after falling from a roof on Munjoy Hill.

Purvis bumped into the mother of Loignon’s fiancee at a Subway in Scarborough last month. Purvis was in the midst of a civil case for workplace safety infractions that may cost him more than $2 million in fines at the time. Surveillance video showed him and Sharon Huff ignoring each other at the sandwich counter, but it did not record the incident in the parking lot that triggered the judge’s scathing comments Monday.

Purvis, according to Huff, urged her to inform her daughter that “she is a (expletive) scumbag.” Purvis testified in court that he said something obscene to the woman as he went past her car, but he denied urging her to send a message on to her kid. Purvis has been barred from contacting Loignon’s fiancee after the court determined last year that he tossed nails in front of her automobile.

Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren informed Purvis on Monday that he planned to revoke his bail but postponed it because COVID-19 at the Cumberland County Jail may imperil the future and long-delayed trial. Warren, on the other hand, stated that he would do so if Purvis committed another infraction before or during his trial.

“I would run the danger of postponing the trial – because we have to mean what we say with these bail terms at some time,” Warren remarked.

The experiment was originally slated for March 2020, however it was postponed due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The jury will be chosen on November 29. The parties spent the remainder of Monday working out details for the trial, such as whether or not marijuana usage will be discussed in front of the jury, and how much the state will be permitted to speak about Purvis’ prior dealings with the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration. They also spoke about the logistics of having a trial with procedures to avoid the spread of COVID-19, such as how many people would be in the courtroom.

Purvis, 47, is the proprietor of Purvis Home Improvement in Scarborough. The company’s website promotes roofing, siding, windows, and gutters, with the tagline “Don’t be scared, call Purvis.”
Loignon, 30, of Biddeford, was working on a third-story roof on Congress Street when he fell. He didn’t have a safety harness on. That day, he died at Maine Medical Center.

Purvis and Loignon had a half-brother relationship. Loignon was engaged to be married to Kristina Huff, with whom he had two kids. In a local newspaper, his obituary praised him as “a diligent worker and a wonderful provider and family guy.” In 2019, his family filed a wrongful death claim in York County Superior Court against Purvis.

On Monday, Assistant Attorneys General Leanne Robbin and Gregg Bernstein declined to comment on the criminal matter. Sharon Huff testified on Monday that she was sitting in her truck in the Subway parking lot, doors down and windows rolled up, when Purvis passed by and said, “You raised two (expletive) scumbags.” “At least your children have their father,” she added as she opened her car door and yelled after him. He made the remark about what to tell her kid as he walked away, she said.

Roofing Contractor on Trial (1)“Every day, I see my daughter and grandkids suffer,” Huff stated.

Purvis, who testified in opposition to her allegation, stated that he believed she was needling him by looking at him from her vehicle. While he confessed making a variation of the initial statement Huff described, and repeated it numerous times in court, he denied asking her to deliver a message to her daughter.
“I almost felt like a pincushion, like she was prodding me,” he explained.

On Monday, Warren increased Purvis’ bond to $1,000 and ordered him to subject to electronic monitoring until the trial. Hallett stated after the hearing that he did not have much time to discuss the judgement with Purvis, but that he believed his client was angry but accepting of the judge’s decision.

“The entire time, they’ve been presenting bail breaches,” he continued. “The government is going too far.”

When settling on the workplace manslaughter charge, the jury will have to decide how to define Purvis and Loignon’s employment connection. Employers are required by federal law to provide specific safety equipment, such as fall harnesses, or to take other measures to avoid falls. Purvis, however, claimed in an interview following the indictment that he is not an employer and instead hires independent subcontractors. He stated that he cannot compel such subcontractors to use the safety equipment that he supplies.

The case is expected to be just the second instance in Maine that prosecutors have pursued charges under the workplace manslaughter law, which is a subdivision of manslaughter and carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

According to The Associated Press, the first known prosecution occurred in York County in 1991, when a grand jury indicted a New Hampshire contracting firm in connection with the death of a 23-year-old man who was crushed while crews were overhauling the Route 1 bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery in 1989. Robbin said on Monday that the case had resulted in an acquittal.

Purvis may face up to 30 years in jail and a $50,000 fine if convicted of manslaughter, a Class A felony.

He may potentially face fines of more than $2 million for OSHA violations for failing to protect workers from falls. Purvis has challenged the citations, and a hearing was held over many days in October and November. A decision by an administrative law judge in that matter is not expected for some months.
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