John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Sep. 2, 2013, 6:17pm

GALVESTON - Comal County resident Paul Whetstone seeks more than $1 million in damages from a marine company he claims exposed him to toxic chemicals.

Whetstone filed a Jones Act lawsuit against T&T Offshore Inc. and T&T Marine Inc. on Aug. 27 in Galveston County District Court.

In his suit, Whetstone claims he now wears a pacemaker following an incident last year in which "his heart and entire central nervous system shut down and he died."

Whetstone was revived and stabilized shortly afterwards, but rendered to unable work again, the suit says.

Prior to the subject event, the defendants permanently assigned Whetstone as a first captain to their vessel, the Ashton T.

On March 16, 2012, the Ashton T ran aground on the Galveston north jetty, and the plaintiff was ordered to repair the "significantly damaged" ship.

The original petition alleges that Whetstone had to work "in a closed environment with little or no ventilation and ingested fumes and vapors from paint, polyurethane, welding gasses and other toxic and harmful substances in the air."

He also claims that he was made to eat and sleep "in this environment" and not allowed to leave the Ashton T.

Whetstone claims he requested adequate protection from "such harmful and deadly fumes, vapors and metals in the air" to no avail.

After defendants released him from duty on April 28, 2012, Whetstone states he was taken to San Antonio's Baptist Hospital where surgeons installed the pacemaker.

According to the suit, the pacemaker "has permanently prevented the plaintiff from performing any form of work activity in the maritime and aviation fields because he is no longer qualified to maintain his ship captain and aviation license(s)."

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Gary M. Riebschlager of Brent Coon & Associates in Houston is representing the complainant, and Galveston County 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor is presiding over the case.

Case No. 13-CV-1118

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