A Texas appeals court ruled Wednesday that a packaging materials manufacturer was entitled to summary judgment on negligence and gross negligence claims filed by the representative of a casual worker who had been seriously injured on the manufacturer’s premises.
In December 2015, Rigoverto Balderas entered into a client service agreement with Port City Staffing, which stated that the agency would provide temporary workers with certain skills to Houston Foam Plastics Inc., according to Balderas v. Houston Foam Plastics Inc., filed with the Court of Appeals for the 1st District of Texas.
The agreement stated that Balderas was an employee of the Port City, which did not subscribe to workers̵7; compensation, and that the agency would perform the duties of “hiring, assigning, reassigning, counseling, disciplining and terminating” Balderas.
Port City initially gave Mr. Balderas to work at Houston Foam as a forklift operator, but the company allowed him to work at one of its locations as a grinding operator without notifying or obtaining permission from the Port City.
Balderas was placing pieces of foam on a plastic sander when its inner spokes caught in the handles of a sack Mr. Balderas was holding, causing serious injuries to his torso, head and arms. He currently resides in the rehabilitation facility and requires round-the-clock care.
Mr. Baldera’s representative brought suit against Houston Foam for negligence and gross negligence and later filed a motion to have the trial court dismiss his suit against Houston Foam because the company can assert an exclusive remedy under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, of which Houston Skum later did.
The judge in the negligence suit signed an order of reduction.
After further proceedings, Houston Foam then filed a motion to vacate the abatement and requested that the judge vacate the abatement and allow the company to file a motion for summary judgment.
The judge granted Houston Foam’s motion to stop the abatement, and the company moved for summary judgment, arguing that the exclusive remedy barred the suit. The judge granted summary judgment to Houston Foam.
The Court of Appeals then found that Houston Foam’s pleadings provided sufficient support for its motion for summary judgment, and it proved that it was Baldera’s employer and a workers’ compensation subscriber.
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