On Feb. 19, 2007, an oven explosion at Tex-Mex Grocers threw one employee 15 feet across a room. The injured baker, Miguel Martinez, and a fellow employee, Mercedes Zepeda, have filed a lawsuit against the grocer and Savatri Ramdath.
According to the plaintiffs' petition, filed with the Jefferson County District Court on April 24, Martinez started to open the oven door when suddenly the range exploded – throwing him 15 feet and causing severe burns to his face, neck and arms.
The oven was improperly connected, the suit said.
"Immediately after the accident, defendants and/or their agents refused to call an ambulance but instead transported plaintiff to the hospital emergency room via their own vehicle," the suit said.
The suit also says Tex-Mex refused to award Martinez workers compensation, and that he and Mercedes regularly worked more than 40 hours a week without receiving overtime, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The suit faults Tex-Mex on 10 counts:
Refusing to pay overtime;
Liability, the defendants occupied the premises;
Negligence, failing to provide a safe work environment;
Permitting him to work without adequate warnings;
Allowing the dangerous to exist;
Intentionally inflicting emotional distress;
Refusing to subscribe to workers comp;
Failing to exercise ordinary care; and
"Defendant had actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved in the above described acts or omissions, but nevertheless proceeded with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of Miguel Martinez and other employees," the suit said.
"Therefore, for such malice on behalf of defendants, Martinez sues for exemplary damages in an amount to be determined at trail."
He is suing for physical pain and suffering in the past and future, mental anguish in the past and future, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, disfigurement in the past and future, physical impairment in the past and future, past and future medical expenses, and unpaid overtime.
Zepeda is suing for unpaid overtime, an equal amount as liquidated damages and expenses of this action as provided by FLSA and court costs.
The pair are represented by Galvin Kennedy and Kevin Chavez of the Houston law firm Kennedy Hodges.
Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, will preside over the case.
Case No. B179-168