Thursday, March 10, 2011
A Mexican national is filing a lawsuit against a Texas law firm for improperly filing a lawsuit against his employer causing his workers' compensation benefits to be terminated. Juan Puga filed suit against The Hastings Law Firm and Tommy R. Hastings on March 3 in federal court in New Orleans. According to the complaint, on Sept. 24, 2008, Puga was employed by Fluid Crane and Construction Inc. as a pipe welder when he was injured off the coast of Louisianan while being transferred from a vessel in a personnel basket. The lawsuit claims that Puga was solicited by the Hastings Law Firm within one week of the accident, while he was still in a Louisiana hospital. When he signed an attorney-client contract, he was receiving compensation benefits from Fluid Crane's carrier in excess of $1,000 per week, plus all medical expenses. The Hastings Law Firm filed a Jones Act lawsuit against Fluid Crane in Brazoria County District Court. The Hastings Law Firm argued that Puga was a Jones Act seaman and as a result, Fluid Crane terminated the compensation benefits and began paying him maintenance at $15 per day. Puga states his employer had no exposure to liability as a result of being his employer and his non-seaman status. He states he attempted to contact the law firm about the loss of his benefits but was unable to receive a reply. He terminated their representation in December 2008.