Forklifts present dangers. James Trujillo, a partner in The Law Office of Garcia, Dubove & Trujillo in Tyler, sent that message to a jury in Roman Montenegro v. John Soules Food Inc. He won a Dec. 11 final judgment of $189,000, which includes $167,000 for future damages for his client, Roman Montenegro.
To get those future damages, Trujillo said, he needed to cross-examine the defense’s witness, an orthopedic surgeon, and show where the doctor’s own practices appeared inconsistent with what he testified was the norm.
“The biggest hurdle was diminishing his credibility,” Trujillo said of the defense’s doctor.
In an amended petition filed Sept. 26 in the 114th District Court in Smith County, Roman Montenegro alleged that, when he worked at John Soules Food Inc. in Tyler in 2009, another employee drove a forklift that did not have a working horn into his path. As a result, Montenegro alleged, he sustained injuries that destabilized his back and may eventually require surgery. The same petition cites negligence among the causes of action and names as its sole defendant the employer.
In an amended answer filed Jan. 19, 2012, John Soules Food Inc. denied the allegations generally and stated as an affirmative defense that the plaintiff’s actions were the direct and sole proximate cause of the alleged injuries and damages.
Jeff Wright, a partner McCathern in Dallas who represents John Soules Food, declined comment, other than to confirm that his client won’t appeal.
After a weeklong trial, a jury on Nov. 1 issued a 10-to-2 ruling in Montenegro’s favor, finding John Soules Food negligent. The verdict awarded $150,000 in future damages as well as other existing damages, setting the stage for the final judgment.
When the court issued its final judgment—more than one month after the verdict—Trujillo said he and his client breathed a sigh of relief.