Families of two men killed in Houston crane collapse file suit in Jefferson County

Kelly Holleran Jul. 29, 2009, 4:35pm

Keith Hyde

The families of two men killed when a large crane collapsed at a refinery in Houston have sued the crane company and other entities in Jefferson County District Court.

Melanie Barnes, Melody Metz and Debra Johnson filed three separate lawsuits on July 24 against Houston Refining, Wyatt Field Service Company, Kempco Inspection Services, All Test and Inspection, Cranesmart Systems, Cranesmart America and Deep South Crane and Rigging.

As the Southeast Texas Record reported last year, on July 18, 2008, a 30-story-tall construction crane, capable of lifting 1 million pounds, fell over at the LyondellBasell facility in southeast Houston, killing four workers and injuring seven others.

"(T)he crane boom was raised too high, allowing the crane to boom over, which was a cause of the crane to falling backwards and collapsing," the suit states.

Barnes filed the suit on behalf of her deceased son, Daniel Johnson Sr.; Metz filed on behalf of her minor son's father, Marion Hubert Odom III; and Debra Johnson filed on behalf of her minor son's father, Daniel Johnson Sr.

Johnson and Odom were two of four people to die in the accident, the complaint says.

The plaintiffs claim that Johnson and Odom suffered mental anguish and pain before their deaths.

Because of the men's deaths, the plaintiffs claim they suffered mental anguish, loss of familial consortium, loss of companionship and society, loss of positive benefits flowing from the decedents' love, comfort, companionship and society and the loss of the decedents' care, maintenance, support, services, advice and counsel.

Before filing their July 24 lawsuits, Barnes, Metz and Johnson claim they intervened in a prior Jefferson County District Court lawsuit against the defendants that involved claims arising out of the same crane collapse. The intervention, which was transferred to Harris County District Court, remains pending.

However when Barnes, Metz and Johnson attempted to amend the original lawsuit, the Harris County clerk told them they had no record of their original intervention, according to the complaint.

Causes in the July 24 complaints include negligence, gross negligence and product liability.

The plaintiffs are seeking actual and exemplary damages, pre- and post-judgment interest at the maximum legal rate and other relief to which they are entitled.

J. Keith Hyde, D'Juana Parks and Darren Brown of Provost and Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont will be representing them.

Jefferson County District Court case numbers: E184-552, E184-553, B184-554.

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