Louisiana woman sues Hydrochem, Ohmstede after inhaling toxic fumes

David Yates Nov. 19, 2007, 4:52am

Mike Pierce

A Louisiana woman claims she was injured after inhaling toxic fumes at a Lake Charles refinery.

Monica Istre is suing Hydrochem Industrial Services Inc., Ohmstede Industrial Services Inc. and Citgo Petroleum Corp. for failing to provide her with a safe place to work.

Istre's personal injury lawsuit was filed with the Jefferson County District Court on Nov. 15.

According to the plaintiff's petition, on Dec. 5, 2007[sic], Istre suffered severe injuries at the Citgo Lake Charles facility, where she was working as a hole watch. Istre was working for Turner Industries at the Citgo facility where Hydrochem and Ohmstede were working.

"Defendants created the hazards that ultimately harmed Istre by negligently performing their job duties," the suit said.

"Specifically, defendants caused an uncontrolled and dangerous fire which resulted in the toxic fumes that Istre unintentionally breathed and inhaled. As a result of defendants' actions and the ensuing fire and fumes, Istre suffered severe and permanent injuries to her lungs, eyes, nose, throat, heart and stomach. Istre has also experienced pain, suffering, and mental anguish as a result of her injuries."

The suit lists the following acts of negligence and gross negligence allegedly committed by the defendants:

  • Failing to properly supervise their crew;
  • Failing to properly supervise contractors at their site;
  • Failing to properly train their employees;
  • Failing to properly maintain and inspect the area at issue;
  • Failing to maintain a safe premises;
  • Failing to provide adequate equipment;
  • Failing to warn of the dangers at the premises;
  • Failing to provide adequate and immediate medical attention;
  • Maintaining defective and/or inadequate facilities;
  • Failing to warn Monica Istre of the dangerous conditions at the production site;
  • Deviating from standard practices and procedures;
  • And violating OSHA and/or other State or Federal regulations applicable.

    "The condition of the area where Istre was injured posed an unreasonable risk of harm," the suit said. "Defendants knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. Moreover, Istre did not know, nor should she have known, of the unreasonably dangerous condition."

    In her suit, Istre says she is entitled to punitive damages because the defendants acted "with flagrant and malicious disregard for (her) health and safety."

    She is also suing for past and future mental anguish, pain, medical expenses and disfigurement.

    Istre is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by attorney Michael Pierce of the Arnold & Itkin law firm.

    Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

    Case No. D180-754

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