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Victoria man sues construction companies after malaria outbreak

By Jessica Priest
April 9, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated April 9, 2014 at 11:10 p.m.


What is malaria?

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease. People who contract malaria have a fever, chills and flu-like symptoms. If they don't treat it, they could die.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 malaria cases are reported in the U.S. annually. Almost all cases involve recent travelers. Malaria occurs in some parts of Africa, India and South America.

SOURCE: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

A Victoria man is suing two construction companies after he said he contracted malaria while working for them in Africa about a year ago.

Jerry Garcia claims Roth Construction Inc. and Guinea Roth Construction were negligent because they did not provide him with a second dose of anti-malaria medication when his stint overseas stretched longer than 90 days, according to an original petition filed in February.

Both companies recently denied any wrongdoing in court documents. They wrote that Garcia's injuries, if he indeed had any, were caused by Garcia or a third party, of which they had no control.

Kyle Dreyer, a Dallas-based attorney who represents Guinea Roth Construction, said Wednesday that he was reviewing the lawsuit and could not comment.

Patrick Wolter, a Corpus Christi-based attorney who represents Roth Construction Inc., could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The president of both companies, Stephen Roth, was out of the country Wednesday and could not be reached by email.

"This is a tragic case that led to permanent injuries," said Garcia's attorney, Cody Dishon.

Dishon put down on paper what his client should be awarded in damages: $1 million.

But there's still a lot of discovery to do, such as finding out if other workers contracted malaria, Dishon said.

Dishon also will try to determine whether workers were warned to stay away from certain areas of the job site or informed of the dangers of working in Africa.

"We won't know the true estimate of the case until Mr. Garcia is done getting treated. He may not be able to get a construction job back in regard to his eye sight. ... It could be a lot less; it could be a lot more," Dishon said.

When Garcia, whose age was not available, requested more anti-malaria medication, Roth Construction Inc. and Guinea Roth Construction, which both have headquarters in Victoria, provided him with medication that treated malaria, not prevent it, Dishon said. He said he was not sure how the supposed mix-up occurred.

Garcia, an employee of JBS Builders at the time, was a contractor of Roth Construction Inc. and Guinea Roth Construction. JBS Builders was not named in the lawsuit. JBS Builders has workers compensation, which according to Texas law, means its employees cannot sue them, Dishon said.

"We don't think JBS Builders is responsible," Dishon said.

Roth Construction Inc. has been in business for more than 41 years. In 2007, it began overseas operations when it was hired by the Equatorial Guinea government for the construction of the National Library and Museum, according to the company's website.

Roth said in a previous Victoria Advocate article about the overseas job that workers would stay in a camp modeled after those the oil industry uses.

Crews would rotate on a 90-day cycle, and those who stayed longer would be allowed to take a trip home every three months.

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