A 22-year-old construction worker who almost lost an arm in a workplace injury in May is suing a Waco construction company over the incident.

Jacob Sowder is seeking from $200,000 to $1 million in his lawsuit, filed last week in Waco’s 414th State District Court against Ignacio Ruiz Jr., doing business as JR Contracting Inc.

Ruiz did not return phone messages left at his business on Monday.

According to the lawsuit, Sowder was working for Waco Drilling Co., one of several companies building loft apartments at South 11th and Jackson streets in Waco.

Byrd Building Services was general contractor on the job and hired Waco Drilling to drill holes 24 feet deep for cement piers for the foundation.

Byrd also hired Ruiz’s company, JR Contracting, to place 24-foot sections of metal rebar inside each hole to reinforce the cement poured into the holes, the suit says.

On May 17, Sowder was helping a co-worker, who was operating the drilling machine. An employee of JR Contracting was moving a 24-foot section of rebar with a boom lift.

“The rebar was not properly secured and came loose from the boom lift,” the suit alleges. “The 24-foot section of rebar fell toward Jacob striking his right arm and almost took his arm off.”

The suit claims JR Contracting employees were negligent for failing to secure the rebar properly to the boom lift.

“Ordinary care required that the rebar be secured in such a way as to prevent even the possibility of detachment,” the suit says. “In addition, Defendant JR Contracting failed to warn workers at the job site that they were attempting to lift and maneuver a large section of heavy rebar without it being completely secured. Defendant JR Contracting and their employees failed to warn Jacob Sowder prior to allowing the rebar to fall and strike the plaintiff.”

Sowder’s arm was nearly severed and he suffered permanent nerve and muscle damage to his right arm, according to the suit.

“Plaintiff Jacob Sowder suffered physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment, loss of earning capacity and significant medical expenses,” the suit, filed by Waco attorney Dale D. Williams, alleges. “Plaintiff’s damages will be permanent and he will sustain these damages in the future for the rest of his life.”

Williams said Sowder is a “champion amateur pool player” whose game has been affected by his injury. He said Sowder is undergoing tests on Tuesday to test the extent of nerve damage.

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

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