Employee claims termination due to attack by co-worker

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Nov. 4, 2011, 9:22am

GALVESTON - A Santa Fe man claims injuries he sustained in an assault at his Texas City workplace and actions he took in response resulted in his termination.

According to a lawsuit filed Oct. 21 in Galveston County District Court, Praxair Inc. fired Michael Wetzel when he notified the company that he was taking an off day to seek medical treatment for the pain allegedly inflicted upon him by co-worker Max Grounds at its premises on Oct. 22, 2009.

Grounds joins Praxair as a defendant in the case.

Wetzel states he was performing his assigned operator tasks in the plant's control room at the time of the attack.

Grounds placed Wetzel in a headlock, causing Wetzel "a severe amount of pain", the complaint states.

Wetzel claimed he did not provoke Grounds nor defend himself during the assault.

Shortly afterwards, both parties and others who witnessed the attack met with Praxair Superintendent Allen Culberson. Grounds owned up to the assault and apologized to Wetzel, the suit states.

The following day, Wetzel informed Praxair that he would not be at work as he was going to see a doctor. He was later told not to come back and his services were no longer needed, the suit claims.

Wetzel seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Attorney Michael L. Aldous of Santa Fe is representing Wetzel, and Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the case.

Case No. 11-cv-1666

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