Just a week after a fatal explosion at a southern Louisiana chemical plant, Beaumont’s Brent Coon was there to sign up clients for suits against the company.
Brent Coon & Associates, the firm known for going after BP and other petrochemical companies, is representing three workers who were injured when an explosion occurred at the Williams Olefins plant in Geismer, La., on June 13. Two people were killed and at least 70 others were injured.
The lawsuit was filed June 21 in Ascension Parish District Court on behalf of three pipefitters: Rigoberto Rios, Manuel Escobedo and Manuel Escobedo Jr. It alleges Williams Olefins was negligent in the maintenance of their equipment.
The workers were employed by Chicago Bridge & Iron and were working as contractors assigned to fix “leaky pipes that has failed to pass OSHA safety inspections,” according to a June 20 press release from Brent Coon & Associates.
The workers say that Williams Olefins did not provide any safety training, nor were they advised of an emergency evacuation plan in the event of an accident, according to the press release.
“After the explosion, workers scrambled to find an open exit out of the plant, but the nearest exit gate was locked,” the release states. “Escobedo says a co-worker was forced to drive through the gate in a company work truck in order to break the lock.
According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, the first suit relating to the explosion was filed the next day by a worker at the nearby BASF facility. Other suits have been filed as class actions on behalf of workers in neighboring plants. Another suit filed June 21 was filed by two truck drivers who were making deliveries to the Olefins facility at the time of the explosion.
Coon’s suit filed for the workers seeks compensation for past and future medical expenses, back pay and future earnings, physical impairment and damages for lost earning capacity.
Brent Coon & Associates currently represents about 15,000 plaintiffs along the Gulf Coast in litigation against BP stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill. But Coon’s tactics have come under fire, as the federal judge overseeing the Deepwater Horizon litigation has determined that at least one of his client’s signatures is a forgery.
The Geismar, La. facility annually produces approximately 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene. Also in Louisiana, the olefins team is responsible for the ethane transportation business consisting of approximately 200 miles of pipelines, as well as a refinery-grade propylene splitter.