Steinberg Law Firm Cases That Made a Difference: Curiel v. Environmental Management Services

Posted on: 05-19-2020
Steinberg Law Firm Cases That Made a Difference: Curiel v. Environmental Management Services

Steinberg Law Firm Cases That Made a Difference: Curiel v. Environmental Management Services

The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides that all injured workers, including minors and aliens, are entitled to benefits through the workers’ compensation system. However, that does not necessarily stop employers and insurance carriers from denying benefits on the grounds the Federal Immigration Reform Act pre-empted State law; an act makes the employment of undocumented workers illegal.

The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled undocumented workers were entitled to benefits in the 2007 case of Mario Curiel v. Environmental Management Services argued by Steinberg Law Firm attorney, J. Kevin Holmes. This case made a difference not just for all injured undocumented workers but for all workers whose disability is worsened by a pre-existing condition.

Mario Curiel was a Mexican national who, as a young farm worker, injured his eye stacking crates before he came to the United States. In 1997 he moved to South Carolina and began demolition work for Environmental Management Services. While working, a piece of wire impacted his right eye. The work injury caused a 45 percent loss of vision in Curiel’s one functional eye and left him occupationally blind. The South Carolina Commission denied temporary total disability and limited his disability award.

The Steinberg Law Firm appealed the decision, and Attorney J. Kevin Holmes took the case to the Supreme Court to fight for the legal rights of Mario Curiel and all injured undocumented workers in South Carolina. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled the Federal Immigration Reform Act did not pre-empt the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Commission should have awarded the worker temporary total disability payments for the time he was unable to work because of his injury. The Supreme Court also ruled Curiel was entitled to receive benefits for the combined effects of his injuries to both eyes. “Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, an injured claimant is entitled to compensation and medical benefits for disability arising from a permanent physical impairment in combination with a pre-existing impairment if the combined effect results in substantially greater disability.” Because of the hard work and dedication of the Steinberg Law Firm, Curiel was able to receive the benefits he deserved.

Attorney Kevin Holmes has over 42 years of experience trying civil and criminal cases in the state and federal courts of South Carolina, earning him a membership in the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates. He is a member of the bar of the State of South Carolina, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, the Fourth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. Holmes has tried over 38 homicide cases, including two death penalty murder cases. Homes says, “It is not enough to be a good trial lawyer. A good lawyer must also be prepared to fight their client’s case on appeal.”

Since joining the Steinberg Law Firm in 1985, he has won numerous urgent Supreme Court cases expanding and protecting the rights of injured people.

About Steinberg Law Firm

Steinberg Law Firm, LLC is a personal injury firm with offices in Charleston, Goose Creek, and Summerville, South Carolina. The firm’s practice areas encompass workers’ compensation, catastrophic injuries, vehicle accidents, premises liability, wrongful death, construction defects, dangerous products, dog bites, medical malpractice, and nursing home abuse.

Founded by Irving Steinberg in 1927, the firm has nearly 100 years of experience advocating for injured individuals in South Carolina. The firm is particularly experienced in the area of workers’ compensation with the firm’s founder, Irving Steinberg, having been one of the lawyers who helped draft and push for the enactment of South Carolina’s workers’ compensation law. The firm’s lawyers have vast experience advocating for injured people and have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts, workers’ compensation awards and settlements in South Carolina. Regardless of the size of a case, the firm’s lawyers emphasize providing every client with the highest level of advocacy, attention and compassion.

With nearly 100 years’ history as a successful South Carolina law firm, the firm feels grateful and obligated to give back to the community that has trusted and supported it for so many years. The firm’s financial and time commitments to numerous community organizations, college scholarships for local students, and service on boards and commissions is evidence of our deep commitment to the community.

The firm can be reached at or 843-720-2800.

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