H-E-B sued by Deputy over unpaid medical bills following stabbing incident

Off-Duty Bastrop County Deputy Sues H-E-B over Unpaid Medical Bills Following Stabbing Incident

AUSTIN, Texas – A lawsuit has been filed against H-E-B by an off-duty Bastrop County deputy who claims the company failed to cover his medical expenses after he was stabbed while on duty in November of last year. The incident occurred at the H-E-B store on Riverside and South Pleasant Valley Road in Southeast Austin.

The lawsuit was filed in Bexar County, where H-E-B is headquartered, according to court records. In another development, those records show that the suspect in the stabbing case, Jaime Canales, was ruled incompetent to stand trial in the criminal case in Travis County.

Deputy Luke Werner, represented by attorney James Wood, alleges in the lawsuit that H-E-B was negligent and placed Werner in a hazardous situation. Wood argues that Canales was already causing trouble and acting unpredictably before Werner even began his shift.

“They let a mentally unstable individual run amok in their store for over an hour. The timeline was significantly prolonged, and H-E-B failed to take any preventive measures,” Wood asserted.

The lawsuit further contends that while other security personnel were positioned around Canales, the store’s loss prevention manager directed Werner straight to Canales, resulting in Canales stabbing the deputy twice in the neck.

What exacerbates the situation is that Bastrop County denied Werner’s workers’ compensation claim since H-E-B was Werner’s employer at the time of the stabbing. Unfortunately, the company does not provide workers’ compensation for employees injured on the job.

James Wood clarified, highlighting a legal loophole, “Although not having workers’ compensation coverage is not against the law, it does limit your defenses in the event of litigation. So, there are penalties for not carrying workers’ comp.”

Werner seeks damages for his medical bills, mental anguish, and more. Wood explained that Werner’s life has irrevocably changed, and he almost lost his life and his family as a result of the incident. “The two stab wounds were mere millimeters away from major arteries, posing an immediate threat to his life. His recovery has been a lengthy and challenging process,” Wood expressed.

In response to the lawsuit, a representative from H-E-B stated, “We support our peace officers, and this party is welcome to contact us if they would like to engage in further discussion. The officer was acting in his official capacity at the time of the incident.”

While Werner continues to recover, he is gradually returning to work at the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office, albeit with limited abilities, according to Wood.

This legal battle between Deputy Luke Werner and H-E-B shines a light on the importance of adequate support and protection for law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to keep the community safe. Their sacrifice should not be disregarded, and it remains to be seen how the court will decide in this contentious case.

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