A Texas-based cement company denied on Monday that it ordered a drug test before calling paramedics last year after a employee hurt himself in a fall. The worker, 67-year-old Benino Perez, later died from his injuries.
In a lawsuit filed in Dallas County Court last week, Perez's family alleges that his employer, Texas Industries, sought to drug test Perez before trying to help him after he'd fallen from a height of several feet. Perez worked as a loader for the company.
"While the Decedent lay unconscious on the ground, the Defendant ordered a drug test to be performed on the Decedent prior to making the 911 call," the complaint says, adding that paramedics didn't show up for two hours.
Texas Industries spokesman David Perkins said the lawsuit, which seeks $15 million for Perez's family, is "absolutely inaccurate."
"Drug testing was not performed before 911 was called. Mr. Perez was conscious the entire time we were waiting for EMTs to arrive," Perkins told HuffPost. "Testing would have been done at the hospital. That’s part of standard procedure."
Perkins said coworkers did not immediately know that Perez had suffered an injury.
"One of our material drivers noticed he was walking a little uncertain and asked if something was wrong with him," Perkins said. "The driver then went to the office to notify the plant personnel. Upon their return, Perez said, 'We just need to get this job done,' and he went back onto his loader. The driver said, 'You need to sit down.'"
Perkins continued, "He had blood coming from his nose and that's when we called 911, and we stayed with Perez until EMTs arrived."
The lawsuit, first reported by CourthouseNews, says a lack of guardrails and other fall-prevention efforts at the company violated federal workplace rules and amounted to "an extreme risk and unconscionable lack of concern for the Decedent."
The Dallas Observer reported that an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did not result in a penalty for the company. Spokespeople for the U.S. Labor Department could not immediately provide additional info about the inspection.