A Galveston County man is seeking $1 million after he says he permanently lost his hearing when a transformer exploded eight feet away from him.

Juan Jose Garcia and Esther Garcia filed a lawsuit June 4 in Jefferson County District Court against Motiva Enterprises.

The couple claims Juan Garcia, who works as a carpenter for Austin Maintenance and Construction, was performing subcontract work at Motiva's refinery in Port Arthur on Dec. 3.

Around noon that day, the 48-year-old Juan Garcia began walking back toward the work area after his lunch break, according to the complaint.

"As he passed by an enclosed bank of transformers a transformer exploded, making a deafening sound, and caught on fire," the suit states.

In addition to his hearing loss, Juan Garcia sustained head injuries that have affected his balance and equilibrium, the complaint says.

At the time he filed the complaint, Juan Garcia said he still has not been released to return to work, where he was making $26 per hour and a per diem payment per week of about $400. He had a work expectancy of about 17 more years.

"He has a life expectancy of at least 28 more years during which time he will be hearing disabled and will require the use of hearing aides," the complaint states.

Because of the incident, Juan Garcia incurred medical costs, lost wages and his wage earning capacity, experienced pain, suffering, mental anguish and physical impairment and lost his enjoyment of life, according to the complaint. He also suffered emotional distress and nervous shock, the suit states.

Esther Garcia says she suffered loss of consortium and loss of household services.

According to the plaintiffs, Motiva failed to provide a safe work place, failed to properly inspect the transformer in question, failed to maintain the transformer, failed to maintain the integrity of a safe work place, failed to discover that a hazardous condition existed, failed to warn Jose Garcia that a dangerous condition existed and allowed a dangerous condition to exist.

In addition to $1 million, the Garcias are seeking pre- and post-judgment interest at the legal rate, court costs and other relief to which they may be entitled.

Gregory W. Allen of Houston will be representing them.

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

Jefferson County District Court case number: D184-214.

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