Beaumont justices recently affirmed a ruling dismissing Goodyear Tire & Rubber from a suit filed by a local plant worker injured when a conveyor belt suddenly started while he was standing on top of the unit.
On Thursday, March 18, the Ninth District Court of Appeals of Texas ruled that Goodyear owed no legal duty to Timothy Segura, since Goodyear sold the conveyor more than a year before his injury.
As the Southeast Texas Record previously reported, in August Judge Donald Floyd dismissed Goodyear from Segura's personal injury suit, ruling that there was no evidence that the company was negligent.
Segura and his wife, Lisa, originally filed suit on June 7, 2007, naming Goodyear and the belt's manufacturer, Haver Service, as defendants.
Court records show that at the time of the October 2006 incident, Segura was working in a section of the local Goodyear plant that had been sold to the Startomer Co. 13 months prior.
In its motion for summary judgment, Goodyear argued that it was no longer responsible for the conveyer because it had been more than a year since it sold the device to Startomer.
"A defendant cannot be held liable for negligence unless the defendant breached a legal duty," stated the appellate court's opinion, authored by Justice David Gaultney. "Generally, prior owners of property owe no legal duty to keep a property safe after transferring the property to a new owner."
On appeal, Segura argued Judge Floyd "erred" in granting Goodyear's motion, saying in his appeals brief that the company "created the dangerous condition" by "modifying the conveyor" before selling it to Startomer.
"Even though Goodyear is a chemical company with no expertise in conveyors, it decided to modify the conveyor from its original design," Segura's brief states. "Goodyear failed to exercise reasonable care ... and created the dangerous condition that injured Segura."
Conversely, Goodyear argued in its brief that the conveyor "was affixed to the premises of Startomer at the time of the underlying incident."
"The Goodyear employees that serviced and worked with the conveyor at Goodyear were employees of Sartomer at the time of the accident; Sartomer knew what Goodyear knew," the opinion states. "Under the circumstances, Goodyear owed no legal duty to make safe or warn about a condition or risk known to Sartomer."
Defendant Haver Services was granted summary judgment and dismissed with prejudice a year after the suit was filed.
Cory Itkin and Kurt Arnold of Arnold & Itkin in Houston represent the Seguras.
Goodyear is represented in part by Elizabeth Pratt of Mehaffy Weber in Beaumont.
County Court Case No. E179-451
Appeals case No. 09-09-00094-CV