Lumberton man claims he was terminated for filing workers' comp claim

Kelly Holleran Jun. 11, 2012, 5:15pm


A man claims he lost his job after he filed for workers' compensation benefits.

Ward Gregory Woodworth filed a lawsuit June 1 in Jefferson County District Court against Monument Constructors.

In his complaint, Woodworth alleges he was working as a superintendent roof builder at a job site in El Paso on May 3, 2011, when he sustained an injury to his shoulder. After determining he was suffering from severe pain that was not subsiding, Woodworth filed a report with Monument's safety department, according to the complaint.

On May 5, 2011, Woodworth discovered that the report had not been filed. Still in pain, Woodworth scheduled an appointment with Beaumont Bone and Joint for May 11, 2011, the suit states. He contacted Monument to let the company know of his upcoming doctor's visit, the complaint says.

In turn, Monument informed Woodworth that he should instead see the company's workers' compensation doctor. Woodworth claims a nurse practitioner examined his shoulder and determined that the source of his pain was a sprain. Woodworth was given a shot and pain medications and told to return in a week, according to the complaint.

However, the pain intensified and his arm and hand began to swell, the suit states.

Woodworth visited the emergency room at Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth in Beaumont on May 12, 2011, where doctors performed an MRI, the complaint says. Woodworth was diagnosed with a complete tear of his rotator cuff. He spent the next 10 days in the hospital on intravenous antibiotics, according to the complaint.

On May 25, 2011, following his release from the hospital, Woodworth received an email from the president of Monument, stating that he and other employees had been laid off. Employees could regain their jobs on a contract basis, the email continued.

Woodworth later learned that he was the only employee not to get his job back.

"Plaintiff alleges that the mass termination e-mail was simply a ruse to avoid the appearance of terminating Plaintiff for asserting his workers' compensation rights," the suit states. "Defendant's actions in this regard were malicious and motivated by ill will, spite, evil motive and purpose to injure Plaintiff."

Because of his job loss, Woodworth lost wages and experienced emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience and mental anguish, the complaint says. He also claims he lost his enjoyment of life.

He seeks back and front wages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and other relief the court deems just. He also seeks actual, exemplary and punitive damages.

Eric Wayne Newell of Brent Coon and Associates in Beaumont will be representing him.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B192-517

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