Welder says he was injured by faulty dam

Annie Cosby Dec. 1, 2014, 2:15pm


A Texas welder is suing over claims he was permanently injured when a construction enclosure collapsed.

Mike Markalonis filed a lawsuit Oct. 1 in Jefferson County District Court against REM Directional Inc., Gulf Interstate Field Services Inc., Paul Sweet, Greg Swann, and Andrew Neuberger, citing negligence.

According to the complaint, at the Beaumont portion of the ATEX Express/Seaway pipeline project, defendant REM drove sheet pilings into the ground in the shape of a box, dug out dirt and placed beams to hold back the walls, forming a cofferdam in order to provide workers an underground space to perform work installing a pipeline under an irrigation canal.

The complaint states defendant GI Field Services sent safety inspectors Sweet and Swann to ensure the safety of the site, and Neuberger is the operations manager at the company. Markalonis says on Oct. 8, 2013, he was working as an assistant welder for MG Dyess Inc. in the cofferdam when a popping sound was heard and the welders were rushed out. The complaint states Markalonis and the others waited more than an hour before being told it was safe to enter the cofferdam again, and when he voiced his complaints, Sweet and Swann assured him that it was "safe to enter."

The lawsuit states Markalonis returned to the cofferdam when the popping noises were heard again and all welders attempting to climb out but Markalonis was unable to. According to the lawsuit, a beam struck Markalonis as the cofferdam collapsed and he was knocked unconscious, sustaining a closed head injury resulting in permanent neck and back pain and numbness in his leg that requires him to walk with a cane. The defendants are accused of negligence in failing ensure the safety of the site and provide the plaintiff with a safe place to work.

Markalonis seeks more than $1 million in damages, medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, interest, costs of suit and attorney fees. He is represented by attorneys M. Kevin Queenan of Queenan Law Firm in Arlington, and J. Trenton Bond of Portner Bond in Beaumont.

Jefferson County District Court case number: D196-185

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