A Texas state court jury has returned a $17.7 million verdict against Texas bridge-building contractor Austin Bridge & Road. The case was brought by the family of a worker who drowned while working on a pedestrian bridge for Baylor University’s football stadium. The jury in its verdict assigned 100 percent of the blame for ironworker Jose Dario Suarez’s death to Austin Bridge & Road LP, one of several Defendants in the case.
Suarez’s wife, two daughters and son filed suit in March 2014, alleging Baylor University, Austin Commercial LP, Austin Bridge & Road, Derr & Isbell Construction LLC, Genie Industries Inc., Terex Corp., Flinto LLC, Robishaw Engineering and Core Safety were responsible for the 55-year-old worker’s death in January 2014. While working on a pedestrian bridge for Baylor’s football stadium, Suarez was tied off in a boom lift on the corner of a barge on the Brazo River to work on the bridge. The lift fell off the barge and Suarez was unable to free himself and he drowned. It was contended that safety rules were not followed on the worksite, including the fact that the lift was not chained to the barge and that safety personnel were not on-site.
Core Safety and Robishaw were dismissed from the case prior to trial. The trial court found there was no evidence these Defendants contributed to the safety lapses involved in the worker’s death. During the trial, the other Defendants argued that sole responsibility for the safety lapses lay with Austin Bridge & Road, and that the company had failed to follow safety rules it had known about for years. The jury agreed, holding Austin Bridge & Road solely responsible for the death. The Suarez family is represented by Vuk S. Vujasinovic, Brian Beckcom and Kenneth B. Fenelon Jr. of VB Attorneys PLLC. They did a good job for their clients.
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