Suit: No wash station led to permanent injury from chemical spray

David Yates Apr. 14, 2008, 8:16am

A mouth full of hazardous chemicals has led a delivery driver to sue Total Petrochemicals USA Inc.

After he was sprayed in the face with chemicals, Juan G. Martinez-Garcia says he raced to the nearest water hose only to find a dry spigot. He alleges the company negligently failed to provide emergency wash equipment and failed to train employees.

Martinez-Garcia filed his suit against Total on April 10 in the Jefferson County District Court.

According to his petition, on Dec. 12, 2006, Martinez-Garcia, a Pl Transport Drivers employee, was delivering chemicals to Total's Port Arthur refinery, "when hazardous chemicals sprayed his face and mouth."

"Immediately after exposure to the chemical, Plaintiff attempted to wash the chemical off of his body with a water hose," the suit said. "However, the water hose was inoperable. Plaintiff next began looking for a requisite water hose, shower and/or wash station.

"He couldn't find one as the chemical was burning his mouth and skin. As he was looking for a working water source to wash the hazardous chemicals off of him the Total operator was nowhere to be found.

Eventually, another Total employee came to the scene.

"However, he did not know where the wash station was either, and began helping Plaintiff try to locate it. Finally, after a significant period of time passed since the initial exposure, the Total operator showed up and directed Plaintiff to the shower, which was hidden and not easily accessible from Plaintiff's initial location."

After Martinez-Garcia washed off in the shower, the Total operator supposedly told him that he looked okay and should just drive back to Houston, the suit said. "As such, Plaintiff drove an hour and a half back to Houston to his employer's facility causing further damage from the exposure."

Martinez-Garcia alleges that because of Total's negligence, he has suffered permanent injuries to his face.

Martinez-Garcia claims Total was negligent for failing to have an operable water hose, easy access to a wash station, get him proper medical treatment and supervise him.

He is demanding a trial by jury and is suing for past and future pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, impairment, loss of earnings and all court costs.

Martinez-Garcia is represented by attorney M. Andrew Seerden of the Seerden Law Firm.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B181-574

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