The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

November 29, 2012

Negligence suit gets new judge

A negligence lawsuit mired for months is set to move forward now that it is assigned to a new judge.

The families of Tyler Zander and Bryce Gannon, both of whom lost legs when they fell into the floor auger at Zaloudek Grain Co. in August 2011, claim five counts of negligence and seek punitive damages from the company.

Although the lawsuits were filed two months after the incident, little progress has been made because after the cases 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, writing that he was recusing himself “in the interest of justice and for the orderly proceeding of these cases.”

Ray Dean Linder, chief presiding judge of the judicial district, has reassigned the case to Garfield County District Judge Dennis Hladik.

A hearing is set for Dec. 13.

Enid attorney Bradley Gungoll, who represents the families in the lawsuits, said several issues will be taken up on that day.

Motions asking Mike Parrish and Ethan Parrish be found in contempt of court are scheduled. Gungoll said Mike Parrish was the manager of the grain facility when the accident took place, and Ethan Parrish is “a young person who was a witness.” Neither of them cooperated with subpoenas to meet the families’ lawyers and answer questions.

Also to be heard is a motion filed earlier this month seeking a restraining order barring the Zaloudeks from shuttling away property worth more than $100,000. In the motion for a restraining order, Gungoll’s associate, Michael Smith, wrote the plaintiffs are 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.

A handful of other motions include the Zaloudeks’ motion to stay the negligence cases until their own lawsuit against workers’ compensation carrier CompSource Oklahoma can be decided.

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. According to court documents, 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.”

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