$1.7M award in comp retaliation case affirmed

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    Reprints

    retaliation

    An appeals court in Texas on Thursday affirmed a $1.7 million award to a concrete mixer truck driver who said he was fired for filing a workers compensation claim.

    In his seventh year of working for Alleyton Resource Co. and affiliated companies, Joseph Ball was injured in 2015 and later hired an attorney to handle his claim, of which included medical treatment and benefits. He was then released to return to light-duty work, documenting the delivery of loads of concrete by other drivers. Within months, he was released to return to full duty with no restrictions despite that he was suffering from pain related to his injury, according to documents in Alleyton Resource Company v. Joseph Ball, filed in the Court of Appeals of Texas, 14th District, in Houston.

    Mr. Ball testified that he told his employer that he was in pain but that he was “showing up at work and doing his best, because he needed to provide for his family. Ball was always clear that he was working through the pain, but he could do his job,” court documents state.

    As a result of this conversation with supervisors, Mr. Ball was offered an unpaid leave of absence or short-term disability as options. He responded that “he was not interested in either option, that he wanted to keep working because he needed the money” and was terminated, documents state. 

    “From the date Ball was released to return to work without any restrictions until the date he was terminated, Ball did not receive any write-ups, incident reports, or disciplinary actions,” documents state.

    Finding that the employer had violated state anti-retaliation law, Mr. Ball was awarded $956,187 in actual damages, $750,000 in exemplary damages, prejudgment and post-judgment interest, and taxable costs of court.

    On appeal, Alleyton argued that the jury had relied on admissible evidence that was “factually insufficient,” and included hearsay, among other claims.

    The appeals court ruled against Alleyton on all its arguments, writing in part that the employer “when making its sufficiency challenge … focuses exclusively on evidence contrary to the jury’s verdict and ignores the evidence supporting the verdict.”