By Jordan Corona
Attorneys representing the family of the construction worker killed at the McLane Stadium site filed a second temporary restraining order Monday afternoon against the university and companies building the stadium.
VB Attorneys, the firm representing the family of Jose Suarez, filed the order with Harris County Judge Jaclanel McFarland of District Court 133 to preserve evidence for an investigation. Lead attorney for the suit and VB partner Vuk Vujasinovic said the order stands until a hearing takes place at the end of the month.
“The companies are not to touch anything until the end of the month,” he said. “The order also includes any cameras or documents we’d requested.” The order does not prohibit the continued work at the McLane Stadium site, Vujasinovic said.
Two weeks ago, the Houston area firm filed a wrongful death and survival lawsuit on behalf of the Suarez family against the university and construction companies Austin Commercial Inc. LP, Austin Bridge and Road Inc., Derr and Isbell Construction Genie Industries Inc. and Flexifloat Construction Systems Inc.
“In this case, one of the lawyers said we couldn’t get the information we were asking for unless we sued,” Vujasinovic said. “So we did.”
Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for media communications at Baylor, said university officials have yet to see the suit.
“This accident is a terrible tragedy,” she said. “But we have not seen the lawsuit, so we’ve not had the opportunity to review it.”
Suarez family counsel is also waiting to review certain aspects of the accident.
Jose Suarez and a colleague were strapped to a hydraulic lift raised from a barge on Jan. 28 as they worked on the footbridge across the Brazos River January 28. The two workers fell into the river when the lift became separated from the barge. Though his coworker was able to swim to safety, Suarez could not free himself and drowned with the sinking lift.
“We asked to inspect the lift several times,” Vujasinovic said. “But it was taken out of the bottom of the river and moved to Dallas.”
Andy Ritter, Austin Industries corporate communications director, confirmed the equipment is now in Dallas, but since it is part of ongoing litigation, could not comment on why.
“We have an impeccable safety record,” Ritter said. “It’s unfortunate this accident occurred and our condolences go out to the Suarez family.”
Workers did not stop construction this past month when the family’s counsel filed for a similar order to investigate the site.
Judge Jim Meyer of Waco’s 170th District Court called the first restraining order a “publicity stunt,” after numerous problems with the request caused it to expire hardly a day after counsel filed it.
In response to the order filed in February, Fogleman said the university administration was conscious of its responsibility to preserve evidence.
“We are prepared to halt construction at the site, whenever that may be, to permit inspection by the family or the family’s representative,” Fogleman said in February.