The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 16, 2012

Restraining order sought in teens’ injury suit against Zaloudek Grain

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

— Lawyers for two teens injured a year ago on the job at Zaloudek Grain Co., filed a motion in court last week seeking a restraining order blocking the Zaloudeks from shuttling away property worth more than $100,000.

The lawsuits arise from an August 2011 incident in which Tyler Zander and Bryce Gannon, both then 17, lost legs when they fell into the floor auger at Zaloudek Grain elevator in Kremlin. They were airlifted to an Oklahoma City hospital, where they were hospitalized for several weeks. Their lawsuits claim five counts of negligence and seek punitive damages.

Zaloudek Grain and its workers’ compensation insurer, CompSource Oklahoma, are embroiled in their own lawsuit, because Zaloudek’s workers’ compensation policy had lapsed before the accident.

CompSource refused to cover the accident based on the fact it had canceled Zaloudek’s insurance months earlier, because the grain company failed to timely provide information needed for audit. The grain company had worked through the audit and reapplied for coverage, but the new application reached CompSource the day after the accident.

Neither CompSource Oklahoma nor Zaloudek Grain has paid the medical expenses related to the accident.

The negligence cases have come to a standstill. After the lawsuits originally were assigned to Judge Robert Davis, of Kingfisher County, lawyers for the Zaloudeks filed three motions seeking a change of judge.

Last month, Davis withdrew from the cases, writing that he was recusing himself “in the interest of justice and for the orderly proceeding of these cases” despite not finding grounds as alleged by Zaloudek lawyers.

“The court therefore does respectfully recuse from these cases and refers the cases back to the Honorable Ray Dean Linder, chief presiding judge of the judicial districts, for reassignment,” Davis wrote in his Oct. 11 order.

Linder, who could not be reached for comment, has yet to reassign the cases to a different judge.

In his request for a restraining order, Oklahoma City attorney Michael Smith wrote the plaintiffs have become aware of several transfers of property by William Zaloudek and Robert Zaloudek, and that the pair will be held personally liable for judgment if the families win the lawsuit.

The Zander family has incurred expenses in excess of $1.6 million and the Gannons in excess of $900,000 so far.

“The Zanders will incur expenses in excess of $5 million for the fit and maintenance of prosthetic limbs during Tyler’s lifetime,” Smith wrote. “The Gannons will incur expenses in excess of $18 million for the fit and maintenance of prosthetic limbs during Bryce’s lifetime.”

Neither Smith nor his associate, Brad Gungoll, could be reached for comment.

Tulsa lawyer Joseph Farris, one of several lawyers representing the Zaloudek family, said he had not reviewed the motion for a restraining order, but said in order for any property transfers to be considered fraudulent, the motive to commit fraud would have to be a factor.