Defective lift cause of man's death at area church, suit alleges

By Kelly Holleran | May 13, 2009

The parents of a deceased man and the representative of his estate have filed suit against two corporations, alleging the man was killed when he fell inside a local church due to a defective man lift.

Ricky and Belinda Matak, parents of Walter Pete Logan Matak, and Misty Sonnier, the representative of his estate, say Walter Matak was killed in an incident that occurred March 30 in Beaumont.

Although the plaintiffs do not elaborate on the incident, they say it was caused due to a defective Genie man lift that was designed, manufactured, marketed and inspected by Genie Industries and Terex Corporation.

However according to media reports from the date of the incident, Matak, 24, was working inside the sanctuary at Cathedral in the Pines Church off the Eastex Freeway in Beaumont.

Matak was an employee of Gulf Coast Electric and was doing maintenance in the sanctuary when the lift he was working on became unstable. He fell nearly 40 feet to the ground.

Because of Walter Matak's death, his parents have suffered mental anguish, loss of his companionship and society and incurred funeral and burial expenses, according to the complaint filed May 11 in Jefferson County District Court.

Sonnier suffered mental anguish, experienced physical pain and suffering and lost Walter Matak's earning capacity, the complaint says.

Genie and Terex were guilty of negligence and of breach of warranty because they claimed the product was safe when it was not, the suit states.

Ricky and Belinda Matak and Sonnier are seeking an unspecified judgment, plus costs, interest and other relief to which they may be entitled.

They are represented by James E. Payne and Jennifer Job Seale of Provost Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont.

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

Jefferson County District Court case number: B184-038.

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