Scaffold worker says faulty lanyard led to fall, sues Valero and employer

By David Yates | Mar 4, 2008

A scaffold builder plummeted to the ground after his safety lanyard snapped. Seeking monetary compensation for his injuries, Rodney Figueroa, along with his wife Mellissa, have filed suit against the makers of the lanyard, the premises he was working at and his employer.

The Figueroas are suing Web Dives for selling a faulty lanyard, Valero Energy Corp. and The Brook Group (Rodney Figueroa's employer) for failing to provide him with a safe place to work. The couples' suit was filed in the Jefferson County District Court on March 3.

According to the plaintiffs' petition, on March 10, 2006, Rodney Figueroa was employed by Brook as a scaffold builder. He was working at the Valero Energy Corporation ("Valero") refinery located in Texas City.

An experienced scaffold builder, Figueroa made sure was following all safety protocols and wearing all required safety equipment while building the scaffold, the suit said.

While climbing down from the pipe rack, Figueroa slipped. He was using a 100 percent tie-off procedure, the suit said.

"Plaintiff felt a jerk as though his lanyard was restraining his fall … then remembered nothing," the suit said.

In his suit, Figueroa claims he had attached a brand new lanyard to his safety harness before he started the job. "Plaintiff would show that upon information and belief, one of the restraining hooks on the new lanyard fractured and broke … causing Plaintiff to fall. The lanyard was defective and unreasonably dangerous …"

The couple asserts Web Devices negligently marketed an unsafe and unreasonably dangerous lanyard, and that Valero and Brook failed to control the job site and provide a safe work place.

"Plaintiff would show that as a result of his fall, he was taken to the University of Texas Medical Branch Hospital in Galveston, Texas," the suit said.

"He was found to have sustained a right, radiocarpal dislocation, a right distal radioulnar joint dislocation, a right complete avulsion of dorsal and volar ligaments, a right intraarticular distal radius fracture, right carpal tunnel syndrome, and left intra-articular distal radius fracture. He was also found to have a burst fracture in his thoracic spine."

As a result of his accident and injuries, Figueroa, has a 15 pound lifting limitation on his back and "cannot even pick up his 3-year-old son," the suit said.

"Plaintiffs would both show that their damages are substantial," the suit said.

"Plaintiff, Rodney Figueroa, will in all likelihood never be able to work again. His wife, Mellissa Figueroa, has sustained a significant loss of consortium as a result of the disruption of her relationship with her husband. They are now living apart although they still love each other and want to remain married."

The couple is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by Steven Barkley, Attorney at Law.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. D181-375

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