Oyster worker seeks $500K from employer for on-the-job injury

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Apr 9, 2012

GALVESTON - Local resident Jovani Salgado-Espinoza is seeking $500,000 in a lawsuit against Prestige Oysters Inc. for refusing to cover medical expenses from his on-the-job injury.

According to the suit filed April 4 in Galveston County District Court, Salgado-Espinoza claims Prestige Oyster made "repeated" representations that he would be compensated. However, the plaintiff alleges he was later informed that the defendant is not providing coverage and does not even acknowledge his employment.

The original petition shows the complainant was in the process of discharging from his duties the morning of March 16 when a machine at the defendant's facility stopped working.

Salgado-Espinoza claims his supervisor told him to put his hand in the machine - which supposedly was turned off - to remove a stuck oyster.

"The plaintiff did as he was told to do, stuck his hand in the machine to dislodge the oyster," the suit says. "When he did, the machine immediately began running, taking the plaintiff's hand and arm into the conveyor belt system."

According to the suit, a co-worker freed the plaintiff from the machine and the supervisor drove him to the University of Texas Medical Branch for treatment.

The hospital then allegedly informed Salgado-Espinoza that the wife of the owner of Prestige Oyster called the hospital and said the company was not playing for any hospital bills, the suit says.

The plaintiff went with his family to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston.

Salgado-Espinoza's efforts to get the defendant, doing business as Johnny's Oyster and Shrimp, P+J Oyster Co. and Prestige Oysters, were unsuccessful as the company claimed it did not know the plaintiff.

Consequently, the complainant seeks $500,000 in damages.

He is represented by Mestemaker, Straub & Zumwalt.

Galveston County 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss is presiding over the case.

Case No. 12-cv-887

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