Flailing hose strikes refinery worker

David Yates Aug. 22, 2007, 10:12am

James Payne

Whacked in the face by a flailing hose, Ereck Craig claims he has suffered severe and permanent injuries and is suing Exxon Mobil Oil Corporation for "allowing (him) to stand in an area where he could be contacted by the hose."

Craig was working as a contractor at the Exxon Mobil plant when he reported the hose was plugged. Apparently, a refinery employee then purged the hose with steam while Craig was still in the area.

Through Provost Umphrey attorney James Payne, Craig filed his lawsuit with the Jefferson County District Court on Aug. 21.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, on Aug. 13 Craig was working for Miller Environmental as a contractor at Exxon Mobil. He was attempting to transfer some liquid materials from a storage tank to a tanker truck when he and a co-worker discovered that the hose connected to the storage tank was plugged with residual build up.

"Craig contacted an Exxon Mobile employee and informed the defendant of the situation," the suit said. "After he informed the defendant of the situation, (an) employee attempted to purge the hose by blowing steam through (it).

"When the steam was used to purge the hose, the hose began to flail and struck the plaintiff in the face causing severe injuries to his face. Additionally, Craig was severely burned about his face, neck, chest and arms as a result of the steam release. Plaintiff suffered severe and debilitating injuries well in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits."

The suit goes on to say Exxon Mobil owed Craig a duty to ensure that the work he performed would not result in injury. "Defendant breached that duty."

The suit accuses Exxon Mobil with the following acts of negligence:

Failing to secure the hose prior to purging the hose with steam;

Purging the hose with steam instead of replacing the hose;

Allowing the plaintiff to stand in an area where he could be contacted by the hose when it was being purged with steam;

Allowing the plaintiff to stand in an area where he could be contacted by the steam when the hose was being purged;

Failing to warn plaintiff of the inherent dangers that existed
from the movement of the hose once steam was used to purge the hose;

Failing to warn plaintiff of the inherent dangers from the steam that was being used to purge the hose;

Failing to obtain a work permit prior to performing this dangerous operation;

Failing to inform supervision of the process by which the hose was going to be unclogged.

And failing to perform any job hazard analysis relative to purging a hose with high pressure steam with the hose laying on the ground.

"Defendant's actions in this case warrant the award of exemplary damages," the suit said. "Defendant's actions, when viewed objectively from the defendant's standpoint at the time it occurred, involved an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others. Furthermore, defendant had actual, subjective awareness of the risk posed to plaintiff, but proceeded anyway with a conscious indifference to the right, safety, or welfare of plaintiff."

The suit says Craig has sustained actual economic damages, as well as non-economic damages. "As a result of the injuries plaintiff sustained, plaintiff has incurred necessary hospital and medical expenses and will continue to incur medical expenses in connection with said injuries for an undetermined length of time in the future."

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. A179- 860

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