Man pinned by ruptured line doused with chemicals

David Yates May 8, 2007, 10:00am

Pinned between a scaffold and the flare line he was told to demolish, a Port Neches man had no choice but to swallow his circumstance and the hazardous chemicals that sprayed from the ruptured line.

Christopher Burnette is suing the Afton Chemical Additives Corp. and Huntsman Petrochemical Corp. for giving him a green light to demolish the supposed empty line when in fact it was still chocked full of lingering chemicals.

According to Burnette's petition, filed with the Jefferson County District Court on May 4, he and other employees were engaged in purging lines inside of the two Port Arthur plants back in December of 2005.

The suit says the defendants told him that there was no product in the line, when other employees were saying there were still some traces of chemicals. "Defendants negligently represented that there was no product in the line�plaintiff relied upon that misrepresentation."

Burnette climbed up on a scaffold and whacked the line with a wrench, the suit said. Chemicals followed the blow and Burnette, trapped between the scaffold and line, had no choice but to stand and be sprayed.

The suit also says the defendants had no safety showers on their premises. "He then went to Defendants operation shack where he was told by their operators not to worry and go home and take a shower. The operators further told plaintiff that they used to put the product 'on their sandwiches.'"

When he got home, Burnette's skin began to itch, turn red and blister, the suit said. As a result to the exposure, the plaintiff claims he has been suffering continuous health problems.

He is suing for physical pain and suffering in the past and future, mental anguish in the past and future, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, physical impairment in the past and future, and past and future medical expenses.

Burnette demands a trial by jury, and is represented by Steven C. Barkley, Attorney at Law.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District, will preside over the case.

Case No. E179-245

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