Woman says refinery chemicals caused eye abrasions, other injuries

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Oct. 15, 2009, 9:00am

GALVESTON - A Houston woman is suing Valero Refining-Texas LP in after reportedly being exposed to harmful chemicals while at the company's Texas City facility.

Zakiya M. Chandler's personal injury lawsuit filed in Galveston County District Court explains that on Oct. 10, 2007, the independent contractor was about to start her work day when she walked into a mist in the air she believed was steam.

"The plaintiff was later informed that the mist was a release of hydrofluoric acid and/or some other combination of harmful gases and chemicals," the suit, which was filed Oct. 9, says.

Chandler points out she immediately reported the injury to her supervisor and had her eyes flushed.

The procedure failed to provide relief despite being performed more than once, the suit adds.

"Although her eyes were flushed three times it did not relieve the pain, therefore plaintiff was transported to Bayport Medical Center where she was treated and diagnosed with corneal abrasion," the original petition says.

Court papers further show follow-up medical treatments have determined that Chandler's vision is deteriorating as a result of right-sided visual field disturbances secondary to chemical exposure, adding the plaintiff also suffered from post-chemical exposure syndrome, headaches, alopecia to the scalp and severe pain in the eye, back, and chest areas.

"As a result of the incident in question, she was required to undergo extensive medical procedures and hospitalizations and to endure anxiety, pain, and illness resulting in damages," the suit states.

The defendant is ultimately faulted for "not providing adequate warning that there would be a risk of harmful gases released in a manner that would come into direct contact with the persons on the premises, so that persons may take adequate precautions to protect themselves."

Chandler seeks damages including but not limited to pain and suffering, mental anguish, impairment, medical expenses, and losses of earnings and eyesight as well as a jury trial.

Houston attorney Gwendolyn Climmons is representing the plaintiff.

Galveston County 10th District Court Judge David Garner is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV1879

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