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Kevin Glasheen Courtesy KVII News clipboard andbeld it up to him. Mullin made some scratchings on the page, and Zimmerman took off with the “signed” waiver. Mullin has sued the company, and IBP has decided not to press the waiver issue in his case. In other cases, however, the company stands by its policy, and a recent decision by an Amarillo appeals court has bolstered IBP’s position. As Glasheen and his partners were building a case against the waiver, IBP filed a motion for summary judgment in a separate lawsuit filed by Len Olson, an independent Amarillo lawyer who was not experienced trying cases against IBP. Olson’s suit challenged the validity of the waiver signed by injured worker Ramona Martinez. In granting summary judgment, the courts held that the waiver she signed was binding, thus validating the waiver in most cases and effectively preventing most workers from filing suit. Each of the cases at Fadduol and Glasheen about half of which have been undercut by the appeals court ruling provides a window onto the shop floor. Consider: in December of 1994, Juanita Martinez began experiencing pain in her hands; her supervisors told her it was break-in pain. She reported the injury the following February, while her regular supervisor was on vacation, and was eventually diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. She had surgery on her wrists in June and worked light-duty jobs until October. In November, she was terminated. Adelina Armendariz suffered injuries to her hands and shoulder while working on the trim line in 1994. After seeing several company physicians, her condition did not improve, and she was terminated in 1995. Jesse Esparza suffered a back injury and nerve damage as a result of being instructed to spend all day drilling holes into steel with old drill bits. The plant nurse advised hot packs, and company doctors prescribed light duty, physical therapy, and waiting out the pain. His condition has not improved. Ana Garcia suffered a shoulder injury in 1992, and, in 1993, a back injury and a hand injury. She underwent multiple surgeries, and returned to light duty. In 1995, she was told her time on light duty was over, then sent home on a leave of absence when she couldn’t find a suitable full-duty job. Alta Hawthorne hurt both her elbows working as a strip trimmer. Despite treatment by two company doctors, the pain in her elbows worsened. She was assigned to a light-duty job that required her to run up and down a 150-foot hallway to open doors for construction workers. In 1995, she injured her foot on that job. After being treated, she was assigned to observe a metal detector in a room in the rendering department, where the temperature ranges between 105 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. In July of that year, she was told that her foot injury was not a job-related injury, and put on leave of absence. Gilbert Flores was working as a bagger on the rib line when his smock caught in the sprocks of the conveyer belt. He had previously complained that the sprocks were not covered by a safety guard, but nothing was done about it. Flores was pulled toward the machine; a supervisor turned off the conveyor belt and he relaxed; the belt suddenly came on again, and Flores was yanked back toward the belt, hitting his mouth and face on the steel siding. He lost three teeth and gouged his lip. He waited for an hour in the nurse’s station, holding his teeth and bleeding profusely, while plant officials pressed him to write out a statement explaining what had happened. He was terminated the following August. Any hope of pursuing a wrongful termination claim was lost for Texas Supreme Court ruled, in Texas Mexican Railway v. Lawrence Bouchet, that a company not subscribing to the state’s workers’ comp program is not bound by the Texas Workers’. Compensation Act’s provision against firing injured employees. That decision gave carte blanche to IBP to fire its injured workers. It also simplified Zimmerman’s job, since it is now perfectly legal for him to sit down with an injured employee and tell that worker to sign the ,waiver or else be fired. Chris Escamilla’s suit against IBP proceeded to trial last month. The scene in Amarillo was hardly the stuff of onscreen legal drama: no movie director would film a climac tic sequence in one of the fluorescently lit, drearily upholstered, windowless chambers within the architectural error that is Amarand the morning of the second day of trial was dithered away in objections raised by IBP’s lawyer Ken Muncy a tall, lanky man with the look of a principal player in a mouthwash commercial. The cantankerous old judge at first forbid Glasheen from posing any question that might solicit a “narrative” answer. Glasheen protested, then sighed, then ‘paused, and it looked like the court would be in for a very long day. The judge seemed to relax his restriction as time wore on. At any rate, had the trial run its full course, procedural bickering probably ex-IBP workers last February, when the ZIMMERMAN SHOWED UP WHILE SHE WAS STILL WAITING TO HAVE SURGERY. HE GOT HER TO SIGN THE WAIVER, WITH HER LEFT HAND \(SHE HEAVILY DRUGGED. SHE HAS NO MEMORY OF SIGNING IT. MAY 22, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13