Alleges 19 year old was not certified to operate forklift

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The family of a young man who was killed in a forklift accident at the Tractor Supply Company store in Alice last month has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging the store failed to adequately train him to use the equipment.

Chris and Sharon Gomez filed the lawsuit on behalf of their son, Miguel Gomez, in the 79th District Court May 14.

The defendants listed in the case include Tractor Supply Company of Texas and Johnston Industries, one of the contractors who built the new store.

Gomez, 19, was pronounced dead April 24, less than an hour after he was pinned underneath a forklift at the store, located on Highway 44 just east of Alice.

Witnesses at the scene told investigators Gomez lost control of the vehicle and the forklift fell onto its side, pinning him.

According to the lawsuit, Gomez was directed to operate the forklift by store representatives, although he had no training or instruction to operate that forklift.

"Gomez was not licensed or certified to operate a fork lift as required by law," the lawsuit stated. "Despite knowing that Gomez was not licensed or certified to operate a forklift as required by law, TSC instructed him to operate the forklift anyway."

The lawsuit further alleges the area of the store where the accident occurred was on a concrete area that had a grade built into the location. The suit alleges Johnston Industries constructed that grade, and should have known it could potentially pose a danger to forklift operators.

The lawsuit alleges causes of action against TSC including failing to provide a safe work place, failing to abide by rules and regulations, negligence and gross negligence.

The lawsuit seeks damages for survival and wrongful death, as well as exemplary damages.

Tractor Supply Company has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.