Scaffold worker hits head on pipe, sues four companies

By Kelly Holleran | May 5, 2009

A worker at a local refinery claims he ruptured two discs in his neck after hitting his head on a pipe while climbing a scaffold

Coy "Frank" Tyson filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County District Court on April 30 against Huntsman Petrochemical Corp., The Brock Group, Scaffolding and Scoring Services and United Scaffolding.

Tyson says he was performing thickness testing and a visual inspection on pipes at the Huntsman refinery in Port Arthur as part of his work for METCO Inspections on May 1, 2007, when the incident occurred.

As part of his job duties, Tyson worked on the third level platform of a heat exchanger. When Tyson went to work on May 1, 2007, he found that Brock had constructed scaffolding so workers could access higher levels of the heat exchangers, according to the complaint.

"Brock had constructed in such a way that there was a one-half inch (pipe) line behind Plaintiff as he climbed the scaffold," the suit states.

As Tyson was climbing the scaffolding, he hit his head on the pipe.

"The line was not marked," the complaint alleges. "There were no warnings of any sort to alert Plaintiff that there was an obstruction to his free and easy use of the scaffold and ladder."

Even though Tyson was wearing a hard hat, he struck the intruding pipe "with such force that he ruptured two discs in his neck," the suit states.

Because of the incident, Tyson claims he suffered physical impairment, pain, suffering, loss of earnings and mental anguish.

Brock negligently constructed the scaffolding without adequate clearance between the access ladder and the pipe Tyson struck, by failing to mark the pipe, by failing to warn and by failing to construct the scaffolding in a safe manner, according to the complaint.

Tyson says Huntsman was guilty of negligence because it authorized the construction of the scaffolding.

Tyson is seeking an unspecified judgment, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and other relief to which he may be entitled.

Steven C. Barkley of Beaumont will be representing him.

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

Jefferson County District Court case number: D183-923.

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