Truck hits meat market, injured man sues owner and truck driver

Kelly Holleran Jan. 6, 2010, 10:14am

When an intoxicated driver plowed his truck into a popular deli, debris and equipment struck the patrons inside. An Orange County man who lost an eye when a meat slicer fell on his head has filed a suit against the store owner and the driver of the truck.

Russell January, and his wife, Lillie, filed a lawsuit Dec. 29 in Jefferson County District Court against Gonzuela Williams, doing business as Durham's Meat Market, and Rodney Eddie.

Russell January was eating at Durham's Meat Market on Gillam Circle in Port Arthur on Nov. 14 at about 5:30 p.m. when Eddie drove his Chevrolet pick-up truck into the store. The truck broke through the wall and struck several fixtures.

"Fixtures fell and a meat slicer struck Russell January on the head, causing severe head injury, including fractured skull, fractured jaw, loss of an eye and damage to the soft tissue of the brain and damage to the brain," the suit states.

Because of the incident, January incurred medical costs, lost his earning capacity and lost wages, according to the complaint. In addition, he suffered mental anguish, physical pain, suffering, physical impairment and disfigurement, the complaint says.

Lillie January claims she has lost the care, comfort, solace, love and affection of her husband because of the incident.

The Januarys blame Eddie for driving under the influence of alcohol and other intoxicants and for driving too fast and failing to stay in his lane.

Williams negligently had an unreasonably dangerous place of business at the time of the accident because of the placement of heavy fixtures, the plaintiffs allege.

In addition, Williams' establishment failed to provide a barrier to protect its patrons from motor vehicles and it was foreseeable that a vehicle may jump the curb and strike the building, which lay 10 feet away from an intersection, according to the complaint.

The Januarys seek actual, exemplary and punitive damages, plus costs, pre- and post-judgment interest at the maximum rate allowed by law and other relief the court deems just.

Clay Dugas and Mike Jacobellis in Beaumont will be representing the plaintiffs.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A185-552.

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