Appeals court to hear arguments on conveyor belt case

David Yates Nov. 10, 2009, 1:10pm

A local plant worker injured by a conveyor belt is asking an appeals court to keep the Goodyear Co. trapped in his suit, even though Goodyear sold the conveyor 13 months prior to his injury.

In August, 172nd District Judge Donald Floyd dismissed Goodyear Tire & Rubber from a personal injury suit filed by Timothy Segura and his wife Lisa, ruling that there was no evidence of Goodyear negligence.

Segura appealed the judge's ruling a few weeks later. And now justices seated on the Texas Ninth District Court of Appeals are slated to hear oral arguments on the case Dec. 3.

Over the past two years, the Record has reported on the litigation filed by Segura, who claims he was thrown headfirst from a conveyor belt when the machine allegedly started on its own.

He filed suit on June 7, 2007, against Goodyear and the belt's manufacturer, Haver Service.

At the time of the October 2006 incident, Segura was working in a section of the local Goodyear plant that had been sold to the Startomer Co. 13 months prior, court papers say.

Because it had been more than a year since Goodyear was responsible for conveyer, the company filed a motion for summary judgment.

On appeal, Segura argues Judge Floyd "erred" in granting Goodyear's motion, saying in his brief that the company "created the dangerous condition" by "modifying the conveyor" before selling it to Startomer.

"Even though Goodyear is a chemical company with no expertise in conveyors, it decided to modify the conveyor from its original design," the plaintiff's brief states. "Goodyear failed to exercise reasonable care ... and created the dangerous condition that injured Segura."

Conversely, Goodyear argues in its brief that the conveyor "was affixed to the premises of Startomer at the time of the underlying incident."

"Startomer owned and was completely responsible for the conveyor," the suit states.

Case history

A year after the suit was filed, defendant Haver Services was granted summary judgment and dismissed with prejudice.

Fighting alone, Goodyear attempted to have the case removed to federal court, but U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone found that her court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and remanded the case back to Jefferson County.

In addition, seven months after the first suit was filed, Segura filed a second suit against the Brance-Krachy Co. for allegedly failing to maintain the defective conveyer.

The Brance-Krachy defendant was eventually transferred to the first suit.

According to the original petition, Segura was working at the Goodyear glue plant in Beaumont when "a bulk bagging conveyor started on its own, when it should not have."

As a result, Segura was thrown headfirst and "sustained severe and permanent injuries to his brain, back and arm," the suit said, adding that the incident has caused him to suffer pain and mental anguish.

The suit stated that the conveyor, built by Haver, malfunctioned because of improper installation.

"Goodyear knew that the conveyor had malfunctioned on numerous occasions," the suit said. "Despite this knowledge, Goodyear consciously ignored warnings and complaints about the (machine) and disregarded the obvious and dangerous malfunctions. The (company) improperly maintained the conveyor and failed to make necessary repairs."

Cory Itkin and Kurt Arnold of Arnold & Itkin in Houston are representing the plaintiffs.

Goodyear is represented by Elizabeth Pratt of Mehaffy Weber in Beaumont.

County Court Case No. E179-451
Appeals case No. 09-09-00094-CV

More News