Wood personal injury case makes quick trip between state, fed courts

By Lawrence Smith | Feb 26, 2010

PARKERSBURG - In less than two months, an Ohio man's personal injury suit against his employer has made a round trip between state to federal court.

The case of Brian Bond vs. Contek LLC, GWP, LLC, Isotek, LLC and Edward Gatemen was transferred from Wood Circuit Court, where it was originally filed on Dec. 30, to U.S. District Court on Jan. 29. Eric T. Frye with the Charleston law firm of Flaherty, Sensabaugh and Bonasso, attorney for Contek, GWP and Gatemen, cited both diversity of jurisdiction of the parties, and the potential damages Bond seeks exceeding $75,000 in his notice of removal.

Bond is a resident of Little Hocking, Ohio. Contek, GWP and Isotek are all Delaware-chartered corporations with their principal locations in West Virginia.

Gateman is a Parkersburg resident, and, according to court records, a majority shareholder in all three corporations. Isotek is represented by Benjamin T. Hughes with the Charleston law firm of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe.

However, on Feb. 19, Frye filed a motion stating that an agreement had been reached by all the parties to remand the case back to state court. The agreement, records show, came three days after Bond's attorney, Jonathan R. Mani, with the Charleston law firm of Mani, Ellis and Lane, argued Bond made valid claims against a West Virginia defendant, Gateman, under state law.

Judge Joseph R. Goodwin on Feb. 23, agreeing that that the presence of an in-state defendant made removal improper, remanded the case back to state court.

According to his complaint, Bond, was an employee of Contek which is a subsidiary of GWP. Both engage in industrial manufacturing, and are located at Gateman Drive in Parkersburg.

However, on Sept. 3 2008, Bond alleges he was "under a direct order from Mr. Gateman to seal the driveway of his personal residence while he was 'on the clock for the Defendants Contek and/or GWP." The job, the suit maintains, required that Bond obtain materials from a building Isotek owned on Staunton Ave. in South Parkersburg."

At a time not specified in court records, Bond alleges he was injured when, in an attempt to stop an automatic garage door from closing in order to pick up a tool that fell of the fork truck he was operating, his hand got pinned by the fork truck, and the garage door frame when the door hit the top of the truck causing it to shift. Upon yanking his hand free, Bond fell off the truck.

The injuries he sustained as a result of the accident include "total loss of his right middle finger; permanent loss of function of his right ring and index fingers; shoulder injuries and knee injuries requiring surgery." Bond alleges all the defendants knew about the unsafe conditions at Isotek, including the defective fork truck, and garage door, but still allowed him to work there.

In his suit, Bond seeks unspecified damages, court costs, attorney fees and interest.

Six days after the notice of removal, Isotek answered Bond's allegations. In their answer, they acknowledge he was an employee of Contek, and working at Isotek when the injury occurred, but he was not doing any personal labor for Gateman.

In its defense, Isotek maintains Bond's injuries were caused by himself or "by some person, persons or entity other than the Defendant."

A day later, records show, Contek filed its answer in which it, too, admitted Bond worked for them, but was not working personally for Gateman on the day of the injury. They deny having any specific knowledge of any unsafe conditions that led to the accident, and they in no way acted with "deliberate intent", as Bond alleged, to cause his injuries.

The case now reverts back to Wood Circuit Judge Robert A. Waters.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, case number 10-cv-100 and Wood Circuit Court, case number 09-C-650

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