Lift equipment will be subject of wrongful death trial

David Yates Nov. 1, 2010, 10:17am

Last March, Walter Matak, 24, fell to his death while changing a light bulb at a local church. Now, a Jefferson County jury must decide if Matak's death was the result of defective equipment.

The Southeast Texas Record reported in May 2009 that Matak's parents, Ricky and Belinda Matak, filed suit against Genie Industries, alleging their son's fall and death was caused by a defective Genie man lift.

Court papers show Matak was working inside the sanctuary at Cathedral in the Pines Church off the Eastex Freeway in Beaumont when he died on March 30, 2009.

Matak, an employee of Gulf Coast Electric, was doing maintenance in the sanctuary when the lift he was working on allegedly became unstable. He fell nearly 40 feet to the ground.

Jury selection in the trial of Matak vs. Genie began Monday, Nov. 1 in Judge Gary Sanderson's 60th District Court.

Matak's parents will try and convince jurors that Genie is guilty of negligence and breach of warranty for putting a defective product into the stream of commerce.

They are suing for mental anguish, loss of his companionship and society and incurred funeral and burial expenses.

They are represented by James E. Payne and Jennifer Job Seale of Provost Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont.

Genie is represented by Houston attorney Clifford Harrison of Harrison, Bettis, Staff, McFarland & Weems.

Case No. B184-038

More News