Lark Food Services asks judge to stay case during arbitration

David Yates Apr. 14, 2010, 4:19am

Last March, the Southeast Texas Record reported on a suit filed by Lauretta Fields, a grocery store employee who alleged she received a severe head injury after she was struck by a falling metal curtain.

In her suit, Fields claims she was working at Larks Food Services on June 1, 2007, when partition posts collapsed while she was walking with a cart, causing a metal curtain to fall on top of her.

She filed her petition in Jefferson County District Court on March 25, 2009, naming Lark as a defendant.

Three months later, the parties agreed to arbitrate the matter and filed a joint motion to compel arbitration, which Judge Donald Floyd granted on Aug. 18, 2009, court papers say.

However, while Fields and Lark may have agreed to arbitration, Fields then amended her petition naming Bow Tie Servers and Myron Green Corp. as additional defendants.

Shortly after filing their respective answers, Bow Tie and Myron Green on Oct. 9 filed a motion to set aside Judge Floyd's order granting Fields and Lark motion to compel arbitration.

Lark filed a response on April 8 asking Judge Floyd to stay the claims against Bow Tie and Myron Green "while the claims against Lark are submitted to arbitration," the motion states.

"Defendants Bow Tie and Myron Green are not signatories to the arbitration agreement," the motion states. "Both Federal and Texas Arbitration Acts require courts to stay litigation of issues that are subject to arbitration."

A signatory is a person, government, or organization that has signed a treaty or contract and is bound by it.

"Plaintiff agreed to arbitrate ... she signed an agreement and continued her employment with Lark with the understanding that any legal claims would be resolved in arbitration rather than court," the motion states. "Lark respectfully requests that the court deny the defendants' motion."

A hearing on the matter has been slated for April 16.

Fields is suing for past and future medical expenses, lost wages and mental anguish.

Loren G. Klitsas and Jeanine E. Holoye of Klitsas and Vercher in Houston is representing Fields.

Lark is represented by Victor Corpuz, attorney for the Jackson Lewis law firm.

Case No. E183-632

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