Temp agency disputes jurisdiction in wrongful death suit

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Apr. 24, 2012, 7:50am

Samuel Griffin III of Griffin & Matthews in Houston

GALVESTON - A Texas City-based temporary employment agency sued for a local man's death at a nearby plant has recently entered a plea to the jurisdiction.

In the seven-page document filed March 12 before the Galveston County 122nd District Court, Action Personnel Group Inc. asserts the parents of the late Virgel Stoker bear a lack of standing when it comes to pursuing legal action.

Virgel Stoker's widow and minor daughter have filed suit against Action Personnel and Dallas Group of America Inc., blaming the companies for his death in an on-the-job accident in February.

Court papers filed Feb. 15 state that Stoker was performing unspecified duties on Feb. 11 when he became entangled in product packaging equipment after being exposed to a toxic substance. Stoker died from his injuries.

Fredreka Denise Hayes, his surviving spouse, obtained a temporary restraining order which prevents Dallas Group and Action Personnel from altering the scene of the alleged incident.

The TRO prevents the defendants from "in any way moving, transferring, changing, disposing of, releasing custody of any physical evidence within 50 yards present at the time of the incident, and any written or electronically stored information related to the design, functionality, repair or monitoring of the area within 50 yards of the incident, to anyone other than the plaintiff or her authorized agent(s)."

According to the plea, the plaintiff's surviving family has no viable claims against Action Personnel because the decedent was an employee and the defendant subscribed to workers' compensation.

"Individually or collectively, they are barred as matter of law from filing suit against Action," it says.

"As a result, none have standing, Action's plea is proper and, at least as to Action, their claims and causes of action should be dismissed."

Action Personnel is represented by Griffin & Matthews.

Case No. 12-cv-230

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