Plaintiff seeks to compel mediation with Rowan for back injury

David Yates Jun. 29, 2011, 7:35am

Last January, Port Neches resident Rafael Gutierrez, who injured his back while lifting equipment, filed suit against Rowan Companies.

On June 20 Gutierrez filed a second motion to compel mediation in hopes of forcing a settlement conference with Rowan, court records show.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, has already once ordered the parties into mediation, court records show.

In his motion, Gutierrez asks the court to order one more day of mediation. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, he the then asks the court to order a settlement conference.

A hearing on the issue was held on June 27 but the judge did not make a ruling, a court official told the Southeast Texas Record.

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.

Gutierrez is represented by Steven Barkley of Beaumont.

Attorney Karen Bennett of the Beaumont law firm Germer Gertz represents Rowan.

Case No. A185-776

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