TX: Harris County Jury Awards $1.55M to Worker Injured at Maritime Terminal

HOUSTON, TX - An international container terminal operating company that offered to pay only $35,000 to a worker seriously injured by an employee driving a yard truck must pay the injured man $1.55 million, a Texas jury has ruled.

The injured man, Gilberto Villegas, was represented in the Harris County District Court case by personal injury attorneys Jason Itkin and Cory Itkin of the Houston firm of Arnold & Itkin LLP. The jury reached its decision on May 11.

Lawyers from the firm advised Villegas to press his case despite claims by the company, APM Terminals, that it was not at fault. Lawyer Jason Itkin said the company's highest settlement offer was $35,000.

"We're proud to have stood by our client and proud to have gotten him the compensation he deserved," Jason Itkin said.

Villegas suffered injuries to his neck and other areas on May 29, 2008 while he was working as a ship repairman at APM Terminals’ marine terminal at the Port of Houston. He was standing in the bed of a pickup truck when a yard truck driver working for APM Terminals collided with his vehicle.

APM Terminals argued that its driver was not at fault because the pickup truck was parked in the middle of an intersection. The company also argued that there was only a minor impact because the yard truck driver was traveling at 1 or 2 mph at the time of the accident.

Villegas' attorneys alleged that the driver APM Terminals authorized to operate the yard truck was not licensed.

In a complaint filed in the case, Jason Itkin and Cory Itkin alleged the company "knew or should have known that (the driver) was an incompetent, reckless driver, and/or unlicensed driver at the time of the entrustment."

Although Villegas required neck surgery after the accident, APM argued that he had suffered neck pain prior to the accident.

On May 11, the jury ruled in favor of Villegas and awarded compensation for his medical bills, lost past and future earnings, pain and suffering, mental anguish and disfigurement.

The case is Gilberto Villegas v. APM Terminals of North America, Inc. (Docket # 2008-43180; Harris County District Court, 133rd Judicial District).

Source: Arnold & Itkin LLP