Defendant Rowan non-suits third party in worker injury case

David Yates Dec. 21, 2010, 3:14am

In January, Port Neches resident Rafael Gutierrez, who injured his back while lifting equipment, filed suit against Rowan Companies, who then turned and sued Precision Petroleum, the man's employer.

Rowan eventually settled its third party claims against Precision Petroleum, filing a motion for non-suit without prejudice on Nov. 19.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, granted the motion that same day, court records show.

In his suit, Gutierrez claims he worked as a welder for Precision Petroleum on April 2, 2009, when he and his co-workers were assigned to work on an old land rig and remodel new rigs.

As part of their job, Gutierrez and his co-workers were supposed to install pad eyes, which are 1-inch thick plates that are approximately 3 feet by 2 feet, according to the complaint.

Rowan provided the equipment to move the heavy eye pads to the installation site.

However, Rowan had no forklift available and directed Gutierrez and his co-workers to lift the pad eyes by hand, court papers say.

"Plaintiff and two other Precision Petroleum employees were lifting the pad eyes by hand," the suit states. "They carried it over to where it would be installed. When they let it down, all of the weight ended up being held by Plaintiff. Plaintiff heard a 'pop' in his lower back."

Following the incident, Gutierrez claims he went to Tower Medical Center in Nederland, where his treating physician recommended that he undergo Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The MRI revealed a herniated disc in Gutierrez's spine, and Gutierrez's physician recommended he have surgery.

In its suit against Precision Petroleum, Rowan asserted it was Gutierrez's employer's duty to keep him safe.

Gutierrez is represented by Steven Barkley of Beaumont.

Case No. A185-776

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