Judge considers addition of injured woman's employer as third-party defendant

David Yates Jul. 9, 2009, 3:22am

Mike Pierce

Monica Istre, a Louisiana woman who claims she was injured after inhaling toxic fumes at a Lake Charles refinery, is trying to stop a defendant in her suit from designating her employer as a responsible third-party defendant.

In November 2007, the Southeast Texas Record reported that Istre filed a suit in Jefferson County against Hydrochem Industrial Services Inc., Ohmstede Industrial Services Inc. and Citgo Petroleum Corp., claiming the companies failed to provide her with a safe place to work.

Earlier this year, Hydrochem filed a motion for leave to designate responsible third party, wanting to bring in the Turner Industries Group, Istre's employer, as a defendant.

Istre's attorneys responded by filing a no-evidence summary judgment motion on the matter. A hearing was held on July 6 in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court.

A court employee told the Record the judge is currently taking the motion under advisement.

In its motion, Hydrochem argues Turner was negligent in its training and supervision of Istre and is ultimately responsible for her injuries.

"Turner was responsible for the training, supervision and control of Monica Istre," the motion states. "Defendant anticipates the evidence will show that Turner failed to properly supervise and train plaintiff and such acts amount to negligence."

Istre's attorneys counter the defendant corporation's argument, by asserting that Hydrochem "failed to establish that Turner was responsible to safeguard its employees from defendant's negligent acts," court papers show.

Case background

Istre's personal injury lawsuit was filed with the Jefferson County District Court on Nov. 15, 2007.

According to her petition, on Dec. 5, 2007, 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 claims she 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 states.

"The condition of the area where Istre was injured posed an unreasonable risk of harm," the suit states. "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 represented by attorney Michael Pierce of the Arnold & Itkin law firm.

Hydrochem is represented in part by attorney Michael Hays of the Hays, McConn, Rice & Pickering law firm.

Case No. D180-754

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