Suit alleges improperly repaired boiler led to explosion

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Dec. 10, 2008, 2:00pm

MARSHALL � Working at Value Cleaners in Texarkana, Jerry Hill's employer requested that he check recent repairs made to the cleaner's boiler.

Hill did as requested, but as he turned to leave the boiler room, the boiler exploded, spraying him with super-heated steam.

Hill believes his injuries were caused by improper and inadequate repairs and that the company responsible for the boiler repairs violated Texas Health and Safety codes by allowing those repairs.

The Bowie County resident filed a personal injury lawsuit against Dixie Weld-Fab Inc. on Dec 9 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Value Cleaner's owner Steven Crouch noticed the boiler was leaking and contacted Dixie Weld-Fab to make the necessary repairs, according to court papers. The Shreveport company sent a repair technician to Value Cleaners on Oct. 6.

The technician attempted to repair a crack in the boiler with new hand-held cover plugs which he brought to the work site. However, the cover plugs were the wrong size, so the technician began grinding metal from the boiler in an attempt to fit the covers, court papers say.

According to the complaint, after some grinding, the technician decided to use the original hand held covers. He attached the original covers and attempted to seal it with silicone. The technician could not properly tighten the original covers as the seal threads were in poor condition, the suit states.

The silicone was not properly cured, the Dixie-Weld-Fab technician was unable to perform a liquid pressure test on the boiler, the suit alleges. Dixie was notified that the test would not be preformed and advised that a dye penetrate test would be sufficient.

Hill alleges that just prior to leaving the work site, the technician informed Crouch that the boiler could be restarted and used. Crouch then told Hill to check the repairs. Hill states that he did as requested but as he left the boiler room, the boiler exploded, spraying him with super-heated steam.

He alleges the actions of Dixie Weld-Fab were negligent and grossly negligent through the failure to perform the repairs as required by the Texas Health and Safety Code. Further Hill alleges the work performed on the boiler was unauthorized by the Inspector from the Authorized Inspection Agency.

The plaintiff argues the defendant was negligent by "conducting its work in an unsafe, inadequate and careless manner; creating, maintaining and failing to remedy an unreasonable dangerous condition; and providing false and/or misleading assurances regarding the quality and/or condition of its work."

Hill is seeking damages for physical pain, mental anguish, loss of earning capacity, disfigurement, physical impairment, and medical care expenses. The plaintiff is also seeking exemplary damages, arguing the defendant's actions were carried out with a "conscious indifference to the rights, safety or welfare of others."

Daingerfield attorneys D. Neil Smith and John C. Hull of the law firm Nix, Patterson and Roach, L.L.P are representing the plaintiff.

Jury trial demanded.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

Case No: 2:08cv465

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