Cleaning company sued for gunky mess has production motion granted

By David Yates | Nov 23, 2010

In May, Port Arthur plant worker Sharon Kirk sued Veolia Es Environmental Services, claiming the company left behind a mess causing her to fall down a flight of stairs and injure her knee.

On Nov. 5, Jefferson County Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, granted Veolia's motion to compel Kirk to answer its first set of written interrogatories within 60 days.

Veolia filed the motion on Oct 19, arguing that it first sent the request for disclosure on June 16 and even sent a courtesy letter informing Kirk that the answers were past due in August.

Court papers show that on May 31, 2008, Kirk was working as a fire watch for JV Industrial at the Lyondall Chemical Co. plant in Jefferson County. At the same time, defendant Veolia Environmental Services was performing sand-blasting work and industrial cleaning operations at the Lyondall facility.

In her suit, Kirk claims Veolia caused a build-up of water, sand and grease to accumulate near stairs where she was working.

When she descended the narrow iron stairs that led to the inside of tank where she was assigned to work, Kirk slipped on the accumulated gunk on the stairs outside the tank, the suit states.

"Plaintiffs feet went out from under her and she fell, seriously injuring herself," the complaint says.

"Plaintiff injured her knee. She also sustained injuries to her low back as well as a concussion. The most serious injury, however, is the injury to her knee which prevents her from returning to the job that she was doing and also prevents her from doing the other jobs that she has done in her life."

Kirk blames Veolia for causing her fall, saying workers for the company negligently failed to clean up after themselves, failed to warn of hazardous conditions, created a dangerous condition on metal stairs, failed to barricade the area impacted by its sand-blasting and failed to inspect its work to discover the hazardous condition that it created.

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

Steven C. Barkley of Beaumont represents her.

Veolia is represented by attorney Don Lighty of the Beaumont law firm Stevens, Baldo, Freeman & Lighty.

Case No. E186-856

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