Pilgrim's Pride worker sues after being hit by pallet jack

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Apr. 23, 2009, 5:00am

MARSHALL -- A former Pilgrim's Pride employee has filed a lawsuit alleging the company failed to warn him of the risk of being struck by a pallet jack.

Alfred Stankiewicz Jr. filed a personal injury suit on April 22 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to court documents, Stankiewicz was working on Feb. 5, 2008, when he was struck in the abdomen by the handle of a loaded pallet jack, sustaining injuries to his internal organs.

Stankiewicz states he is still suffering and experiencing excruciating pain from the incident.

Pilgrim's Pride did not have a policy of worker's compensation insurance covering the plaintiff and is subject to a direct cause of action, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff alleges Pilgrim's Pride is negligent for failure to provide a safe place to work and not providing the necessary tools and appliances for carrying on the work requested in a proper condition and with reasonable safety.

Further, the complaint argues the defendant failed to adequately warn, instruct, or advise the plaintiff of the actual hazards and possible injures which could occur if he used the company's equipment and failed to warn of a dangerous condition which existed on the premises.

Stankiewicz states his injuries are the result of the company's failure to provide reasonable rules and regulations for the safe conduct of work.

Pilgrim's Pride is accused of being negligent for failure to properly train, supervise, and instruct the plaintiff in a safe and proper manner of the operations in existences at its premises.

Alleging further negligence, the complaint argues the company is liable for "the failure to initiate and maintain adequate safety programs; and the failure to assure that safety practices and procedures were being followed by the employees of the defendant employer, Pilgrim's Pride Corporation."

Stankiewicz is seeking more than $75,000 in damages for physical pain, impairment, disability, mental anguish, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, medical and hospital expenses, and pre and post judgment interest.

The plaintiff is requesting a jury trial.

Nacogdoches attorney Reese P. Andrews of the Andrews and Andrews law firm and Longview attorneys T. John Ward, Jr. and Bruce A. Smith of the Ward and Smith Law Firm are representing the former employee in his allegations.

U.S. District Judge David Folsom is assigned to the litigation.

Employing approximately 47,000 people, Pilgrim's Pride voluntary filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2008. As part of the reorganization, the company has recently announced the closure or idling of plants in Dalton and Douglas Ga., Farmerville, La., and El Dorado, Ark.

In a press release concerning the bankruptcy proceedings the president and chief executive officer, Don Jackson, stated, "We recognize the pain and uncertainty that the idling of these plants will have on our employees and growers at these locations, as well as on the surrounding communities. It is a devastating situation, and we sincerely wish that such actions were not necessary."

"But the reality is that our country is arguably facing the most significant financial crisis since the Great Depression, with consumer spending on food dropping at its steepest rate in more than 60 years.

"We are taking decisive steps now to protect the greatest number of jobs and growers in order to restructure our business and ultimately emerge from Chapter 11 as a stronger, more efficient competitor."

Stock for the company is up from a 52 week low of $.14 per share to currently $2.90.

Currently, Pilgrim's Pride has not responded to the lawsuit.

Case No 2:09cv00118

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