Oklahoma Company Sued Over Accident That Hurt Teens

The parents of two teenagers who were severely injured in a grain elevator accident have filed negligence lawsuits against the business where the boys worked.

Cherie Gannon, Lee Zander and Rhonda Zander filed the lawsuits against Zaloudek Grain Co., its officers and shareholders in Garfield County District Court and are seeking damages in excess of $75,000 for their sons, Bryce Gannon and Tyler Zander, the Enid News and Eagle reported in a story for Wednesday’s editions. Zaloudek is located in Kremlin, about 115 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

Bryce Gannon and Tyler Zander were operating a grain auger Aug. 4 when Gannon got his leg stuck in it and Zander became trapped while trying to help him, authorities said. Both teenagers were flown by medical helicopter to an Oklahoma City hospital in critical condition and each lost a leg.

The petitions, filed in October, accused the company of assigning the teens, then 17, to “work duties in violation of state and federal labor laws”; of being negligent in training and supervising them and of not having workers’ compensation insurance.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the company $750 for not having workers’ compensation coverage when the accident occurred.

Attorneys for Zaloudek have sued the company’s workers’ compensation insurance provider over the issue of whether the carrier should cover the teens’ medical expenses. Zaloudek wants the negligence lawsuits dismissed or at least delayed until the insurance dispute is settled.

“Typically – overwhelmingly, I should say – if a worker is injured on the job, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy,” said Joseph Farris, the Tulsa attorney representing the company in the negligence lawsuits. An exception to that rule is when an employee works in a place so dangerous there is no question they eventually will be injured, Farris added.

Farris didn’t immediately return a message left Wednesday at his office seeking comment.

Brad Gungoll, who filed the lawsuits on behalf of the teens’ families, said Zaloudek’s court fight with CompSource Oklahoma doesn’t affect the negligence case.

“We are not a party to that lawsuit,” said Gungoll, who didn’t immediately return a call Wednesday for comment.

The only difference Zaloudek’s lawsuit will make for his clients is who pays after the negligence lawsuit is finished, Gungoll said.

The final amount the families will seek isn’t yet known because their sons’ medical costs are still mounting, Gungoll said. They have to reach “maximum medical recovery” before the sum will be known, he said.