Hospital Housekeeping agrees to settlement over personal injury claim

David Yates Nov. 13, 2008, 5:00am

For the past five months, Hospital Housekeeping Systems has fought a $24,950 judgment levied against the company last December in Texas' Ninth Court of Appeals. But before justices could reach a decision, HHS settled.

On Nov. 6, the appeals court released an opinion stating HHS and the plaintiff who had sued the company, George Glenn Eddings, filed a joint motion to dismiss the appeal.

"The parties allege they have reached a settlement agreement," the opinion states. "The joint motion to dismiss is granted. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the trial court without reference to the merits and dismiss the appeal."

Last December, the Record reported that an infectious case of "pink eye" landed trash man George Eddings a $24,945 jury verdict.

Eddings, a Gulf Coast Waste Services employee, was sprayed in the face with blood in 2003 while removing a bale of flattened cardboard boxes from Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital.

According to Eddings' testimony during the trial and court documents, the incident occurred when Eddings picked up the load of cardboard with a forklift. He was about to place them on his truck when a strong gust of wind swept over the boxes.

"The wind had blown the blood (onto) my face," Eddings testified. "At first I thought it was water. I went to the bathroom and washed my face with a paper towel and saw it was blood."

Three months after the incident, Eddings filed suit against Christus St. Elizabeth and Hospital Housekeeping Systems, Inc. in the Jefferson County District Court, claiming the companies illegally disposed of hazardous waste.

Seven months after jurors awarded Eddings $24,500 for past mental anguish and $450 for past medical expenses, HHS appealed.

HHS had first sought to have the case's presiding judge, 172nd District Judge Donald Floyd, grant the company a new trial.

HHS' motion was rejected July 18, leading the company to appeal a week later.


A year before the start of the December 2007 trial, Christus' attorneys requested a motion summary judgment. Floyd dismissed Christus as defendant.

In his order, signed Feb. 27, 2006, Floyd wrote, "It is ordered, adjudged and decreed that plaintiff, George Eddings take nothing against Christus Health Southeast Texas, and all claims filed against Christus…are dismissed with prejudice."

According to Eddings' petition, he was a Gulf Coast Waste Services employee working at Christus St. Elizabeth as a subcontractor.

"While going about plaintiff's assigned duties, plaintiff sustained…injuries to his face, eyes, head, neck, shoulder and body due to defendant's improper and illegal disposal of hazardous waste, including…infected, spoiled and contaminated fluids," the suit said.

Eddings made a claim and received workers' compensation and medical benefits after the injury.

In his suit, Eddings claims HHS was negligent for failing to supervise him, inspect the premises, warn him of the dangerous condition, and provide him with a safe place to work and knowingly violating the Texas Health Code.

Eddings' petition had asked jurors to award him punitive and exemplary damages, plus damages for past and future mental anguish, physical pain, lost earnings, medical expenses and impairment.

"Plaintiff would show that he sustained mental anguish of an almost incalculable nature," the suit said.

Terrell is an attorney for the Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell law firm.

HHS was represented by attorney Kevin Hood of the Fabrega, Hood, Raynes & Fass law firm.

Appeals case No. 09-08-00334-CV
Trial case No. E-170-031

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