Damages sought for chemical burn may exceed $1 million

Marilyn Tennissen Apr. 4, 2007, 1:00pm

A man burned when a vacuum truck overflowed is seeking damages for his injuries that may exceed $1 million.

Joseph Morrell filed a personal injury suit against Philip Industrial Services and Juan Rios on March 23 in Jefferson County District Court.

Morrell was working at Port Arthur's Total Refinery on Jan. 23 when the injury occurred. According to the plaintiff's original petition, defendant Rios was the operator of a vacuum truck that was removing condensate from a cut-off 55-gallon drum into which condensate was being drained.

"Juan Rios was not paying sufficient attention to what he was doing and let the vacuum truck fill up without warning the plaintiff," the petition states. "And he did not shut the vacuum truck down."

The plaintiff said as a result, the half-drum began to overflow. Morrell said he was trying to remove the condensate hose from the overflowing barrel and reach the cut-off valve he was burned on his lower legs.

As a result of the injuries, the plaintiff has experienced and will in the future experience physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of earnings and loss of earning capacity.

"Plaintiff Joseph Morrell seeks recovery for such damages in such amounts as the evidence may show proper at the time trial; such amounts may exceed one million dollars," the lawsuit states.

Morrell's wife, Maria Morrell, is also named as a plaintiff and seeks damages for loss of consortium and society, mental anguish, loss of household services and other spousal injuries and damages.

James Mehaffy of Provost Umphrey Law Firm is representing the plaintiffs.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd in the 172nd District Court.

Case number: E179-999

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