Worker had sued for up to $1 million, but Facebook photos undercut his story
HOUSTON – A judge has confirmed a jury’s take-nothing verdict in favor of a Houston-based manufacturer that was sued for damages of up to $1 million by a worker who was injured when he improperly tried to repair a conveyor belt.
The worker was hired to assemble industrial wood products, but had at times claimed to have repaired the conveyor belt without the company’s knowledge. Then in his last repair attempt, he failed to cut the power and his left hand was caught in a conveyor, causing him to lose part of his ring finger and injure other fingers. The worker sought damages of $200,000 to $1 million for pain, mental anguish, disfigurement and impairment.
Key to the company’s defense were inconsistencies in the worker’s story, bolstered by his own Facebook photos. The Facebook “selfies” showed him playing the accordion, gripping a mobile phone to take the selfies, and holding other objects in his disfigured left hand just weeks after his injury. The worker chose to broadcast these photos to more than 4,000 Facebook friends despite claiming he was embarrassed by his injury. He also had claimed his injuries effectively precluded him from performing such tasks.
The jury in Harris County District Judge Kristen Hawkins’ court deliberated just 50 minutes before deciding in favor of the manufacturer, which was represented by Stewart Hoffer and Stephen Loftin of Hicks Thomas LLP. Judge Hawkins signed the judgment on Nov. 10, 2017.
“The company we represented is owned and operated by responsible people, who did the right thing by paying the lost wages an medical bills of the injured employee, even though the accident was, as the jury rightly concluded, solely caused by the employee’s conduct,” said Mr. Hoffer. “We and our client are grateful for the jury’s careful attention during the trial.”
Founded in 1997, Texas-based Hicks Thomas LLP is a premier litigation firm representing plaintiffs and defendants across the nation with offices in Houston, Austin, Beaumont and Amarillo, Texas, and Sacramento, California. The firm provides in-depth experience in cases involving oil and gas, environmental, complex commercial, toxic tort, construction, products liability, corporate governance, securities, banking, insurance coverage, transportation, trade secrets and business litigation. Visit the firm at http://www.hicks-thomas.com.