Home Depot's injury payments not enough for former employee

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 4, 2007, 12:52pm

MARSHALL -- After voluntarily paying medical expenses for an injured employee, Home Depot is now facing a lawsuit from the employee who claims the payments were not enough.

Tyler residents Brindra Lekhraj and his wife Sara filed suit against Home Depot on July 17 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the plaintiffs' original petition, while Lekhraj worked in Home Depot's hardware department in July of 2005, a manager asked him to assist in another part of the store with stocking sheet metal. Lekhraj, who says he had no previous experience handling sheet metal, was attempting to place a stack on the shelf when the V-shaped sheet metal slid down onto his left wrist and arm.

The metal severed nerves and tendons in his arm, and Lekhraj received emergency medical surgery. The plaintiff says he has lost much sensation and flexibility and has not regained full use of his left hand, wrist and arm.

Within the court records, plaintiffs allege that Home Depot violated OSHA rules and regulations by not providing personal protective clothing or gear. In addition, the Lekhrajs assert that Home Depot was negligent by having untrained or inexperienced employees perform "inherent dangerous and hazardous duties."

Damages sought by the plaintiffs include physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, physical impairment, mental anguish, medical expenses, lost wages, and earning capacity. Seeking damages for loss of consortium, Lekhraj states that he has lost affection, solace, comfort, assistance, companionship, and society from his wife Sara. Further, plaintiff is seeking punitive damages so Home Depot will not place future employees in similar circumstances.

In its original answer filed Aug. 3,Home Depot denies it was negligent and states that Lekhraj caused the incident because he did not act with ordinary care. Further, defendant argues that the plaintiff failed to mitigate damages.

If necessary, Home Depot states that judgment should be offset due to previous payments to and on behalf of the Plaintiff. Home Depot explained that it does not subscribe to the Texas Worker's Compensation Program but has a self-funded ERISA Occupational Injury Plan. Through this plan, Home Depot paid various providers for treating Lekhraj's injuries and directly paid him for lost wages.

The Dallas law office of Gregory Bevel and the Tyler law office of James Carter are representing the plaintiffs.

Judge John Ward will hold a scheduling conference on Oct. 3.

Case No.: 2:07cv00294

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