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Man claims Motiva's carelessness caused his brain damage

By David Yates | Apr 12, 2007

Thomas and Wan

The family of Jesus Deleon is suing Motiva Enterprises for a violation of OSHA standards which they say left their primary bread winner brain damaged.

Deleon, an employee of United Scaffold, was exposed to an array of toxic gases while erecting a scaffold inside a Motiva tank.

Represented by the Houston law firm Thomas & Wan , Deleon, his wife Guadalupe and young children, Jessica and Luis, filed their suit on April 11 with the with the Jefferson County District Court. Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, will preside over the case.

According to the plaintiffs' petition, on Feb. 7, 2006, Deleon was in a Motiva tank working "when suddenly and without warning," lethal levels of hydrogen sulfide gas flooded the tank. He lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital where he stayed in intensive care for more than 24 hours. It took several months before he could return to work.

Deleon claims Motiva was negligent for giving him a green light to enter and telling him "that respiratory protection would not be necessary" whiles he was in the tank.

"Plaintiff has suffered permanent brain damage and post-traumatic brain damage. These injuries will affect him for the rest of his life," the suit said.

Deleon's suit lists more than two dozen points of fault on Motiva's part, including failing to adequately warn, instruct, and supervise him.

According to the petition, if the lawsuit goes to trial, jurors will have to decide if Deleon was careless, or if Motiva failed to "exercise reasonable care."

"Motiva's outrageous and flagrant disregard for federal safety regulations indicates the company had absolutely no concern for the welfare of United Scaffold employees like Jesus Deleon. Defendant's intentional refusal to follow Occupational Safety and Health Act regulations illustrates an attitude...of indifference," the suit said.

Deleon is suing for past and future pain, mental anguish, earnings, medical care, physical impairment, disfigurement and mental impairment. He is also suing for loss of consortium, pecuniary loss, the cost of the suit and exemplary damages.

His family is suing for past and future mental pain, medical expenses and earnings, in addition to loss consortium, pecuniary loss, exemplary damages and loss of services.

The family is requesting Motiva not destroy or tamper with any evidence. Discovery is intended to be conducted under Level 3.

Motiva operates an oil refinery in Port Arthur and is currently building America's first refinery in more than 20 years.

Case No. E179-104

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