Injured worker seeks depositions from Chemtrade

By Kelly Holleran | Jan 21, 2009

A Beaumont man who was severely injured in a chemical plant explosion has requested Chemtrade Refinery Services release various lists of companies and subcontractors who may soon become defendants in litigation the man may file against them.

Robert Patella was working for Chemtrade at the time of the explosion and has received workers compensation from the company, so he is not allowed to sue it, according to the petition for deposition filed Jan. 15 in Jefferson County District Court.

Instead, he would like the company to release a list of subcontractors working on the premises one month prior to the explosion and a list of companies whose products were defected in the furnace, the suit states.

The explosion occurred while Patella was climbing to the control panel for the furnace on Aug. 21, he claims.

Patella heard an unusual sound, then the furnace exploded, according to the complaint.

"The flames from the explosion consumed Mr. Patella's body and threw him 30 feet from the control tower unto the concrete below," the suit states.

Before the explosion happened, the furnace had been taken down and off line to be inspected and worked on, Patella alleges.

So, Patella wants the lists to investigate the possibility of filing claims against subcontractors and other companies, according to the complaint.

However, he claims Chemtrade is not cooperating.

"The cause of this explosion has not been released by Chemtrade and refuses to produce any internal documents or investigative reports regarding this incident," the suit states.

Patella is seeking to depose the designated corporate representatives of Chemtrade who have the most knowledge about the furnace, its manufacturers and the explosion.

He is represented by Barrett M. Havran of Sommerman and Quesada of Dallas.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham of the 58th District Court.

Case No. A183-058

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