A Houston jury has awarded $53 million to the family of an Irving construction worker who died in late 2013 while working on renovations for Texas A&M University’s football stadium, Kyle Field.
Angel Garcia, 28, died after being injured on Dec. 3, 2013, by a heavy piece of concrete that dislodged on the machine he was working on and catapulted him to a four-story fall.
Garcia worked for Irving-based Lindamood Demolition, a demolition and implosion company that assisted in removing concrete debris in the expansion of Kyle Field’s capacity to about 102,500 seats.
After five hours of deliberation, the jury on Wednesday put 25 percent of the blame for Garcia’s death on Lindamood Demolition and the remaining 75 percent on Manhattan-Vaughn JVP, the general contractor in charge of the renovation project.
“The verdict means everything for my clients,” said Houston attorney Jason A. Gibson, who represented Garcia’s mother, Josephina Garcia, and his two children. “They were happy and sad at the same time yesterday; they really didn’t know what to think. I’m still processing it myself.”
Gibson said the $53 million award covered pain and mental anguish, loss of companionship and loss of income suffered by Garcia’s family.
Gibson said he rejected an offer by the defense to settle the case for $150,000 before the jury returned with its verdict.
Houston attorney Wade Quinn, who represented Manhattan-Vaughn, said in an email that his client will appeal.
Michael A. Miller represented Lindamood Demolition, which Gibson said settled with the plaintiffs one week after the three-week trial began. Miller could not be reached for comment.
Manhattan-Vaughn is a domestic joint venture partnership that Houston-based Vaughn Construction and Tulsa-based Manhattan Construction Co. formed specifically to become the general contractor of the Kyle Field project.
Gibson argued that Manhattan-Vaughn failed to take proper safety procedures because of the pressure it felt to finish the project before A&M’s first home game in the fall of 2015. A liquidation provision in its contract with A&M said that if the renovation was not finished on time, Manhattan-Vaughn would have to pay $1.5 million per game, Gibson said.
“They had people working 24/7 around the clock. I think they felt panicked and rushed,” Gibson said. “They cut corners and as a result, safety was nonexistent and it allowed for [Garcia’s death] to happen.”