Worker struck by falling debris sues ExxonMobil, Heatex

David Yates Feb. 13, 2008, 7:39am

Struck in the head by a piece of falling debris while working as fire guard, Ronny Goolsbee says ExxonMobil and Heatex Industries failed to provide him with a safe place to work and has filed suit.

Goolsbee's personal injury lawsuit was filed in the Jefferson County District Court on Feb. 11.

According to the plaintiff's petition, on June 19, 2007 Goolsbee, an Inserv employee, was working at the Beaumont ExxonMobil refinery as fire guard for Heatex.

Heatex's employees were performing welding on pipes. Goolsbee saw that sparks were flying around, so he moved over to a position where he could better see the welder and watch for any hazards.

The "Columns in the unit had been fire-proofed," the suit said. "The fire-proofing on the column was decayed. A piece of the fire-proofing broke off from a column above where Goolsbee was standing. The piece of fire-proofing fell 20 feet and hit Ronnie Goolsbee on the back of his neck."

In his suit, Goolsbee says he is in possession of a photograph taken shortly after the accident, which shows the deteriorated condition of the fire-proofing on the column.

"The photograph clearly shows the deteriorated condition of the fire-proofing," the suit said.

"ExxonMobil knew or should have known that the fire-proofing was unreasonably dangerous and, in addition, the photograph shows that the condition of the deteriorated column was such that it reasonably was in this condition for a long enough period of time that ExxonMobil should have discovered the deteriorated fire-proofing."

The piece of fire-proofing that struck Goolsbee weighed slightly more than two pounds, the suit said.

"Plaintiff has since been seen by an orthopedic surgeon," the suit said.

"He has had an MRI that has demonstrated that he has three damaged disks in his neck. He currently has numbness of his left thumb and the left side of his hand. He also has problems with his shoulder. He has been unable to work since shortly after the accident leading to this lawsuit."

Goolsbee faults both companies for falling to provide him with a safe place to work.

He is suing for more than $100,000 in damages.

He is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by Steven C. Barkley, Attorney at Law.

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

Case No. D181-208

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