Family sues chemical company after man crushed by tank

Kelly Holleran Jun. 30, 2010, 9:37am

The family of a recently deceased man has filed suit against a company, alleging the man died while working after a tank toppled onto him.

Agnes Cecille Gaspard Fontenot, wife of Joseph Royce Fontenot Sr., and Cheryl Fontenot Buford, Farrell Paul Fontenot, Jerry Joseph Fontenot and Joseph Royce Fontenot Jr., children of Joseph Royce Fontenot Sr., claim their 70-year-old husband and father had transported two tanks to defendant Coastal Chemical Co.'s distribution facility in Beaumont on March 2.

"Defendant's employee was attempting to unload a tank with a forklift when the tank fell, crushing Mr. Fontenot and causing his death," the suit filed June 17 in Jefferson County District Court states.

Before his death, Joseph Royce Fontenot Sr. suffered conscious physical pain and mental anguish, according to the complaint.

Because of their husband's and father's death, the plaintiffs have lost his care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, companionship and society and have suffered significant mental anguish, including devastating emotional pain, torment and suffering, the complaint says. In addition, they have all lost Joseph Royce Fontenot Sr.'s inheritance.

The plaintiffs blame Coastal Chemical Company for causing Joseph Royce Fontenot Sr.'s death, saying the company negligently, through its employees, failed to properly operate the forklift, failed to properly unload the tanks, failed to follow proper safety procedures, failed to properly train its employees, failed to follow proper safety guidelines and violated federal and state regulations.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs seek a judgment in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of Jefferson County District Court, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Richard Warren Mithoff and Janie L. Jordan of the Mithoff Law Firm in Houston and Richard J. Putnam Jr. of Putnam Law Firm in Abbeville will be representing them.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: D187-092.

More News